Small business owners and other self-employed professionals can face serious challenges when it comes to setting boundaries. If you are the “chief cook and bottle washer” for your business, it can be hard to step away. Sure, you promised yourself you’d stop taking customer calls after 6 p.m., but it’s so tempting to answer. What if this potential new client was to become a loyal repeat customer? What if they have a big, juicy contract up for bids? As the phone rings, your imagination goes into overdrive, and you can’t resist the opportunity. Ring, ring . . . ring, ring.
Stop doing this to your family, your friends, and yourself. It does not seem like a big deal to flip back into “work mode” for just a few minutes here and there, but you are doing more damage than you realize. It doesn’t matter that the customer inquiry only took two or three minutes to answer. What matters is that you destroyed the sanctity of your oh-so-important free time for the sake of a non-emergency.
Once you have stepped out of the office and taken off your blazer, white coat, or name badge, that should be the end of the workday. It’s important to train your brain to regard that free time as a real break from work. When you violate the boundary of “no business tasks unless it’s an emergency,” you are training your brain to always have part of your mind On Call, even when it shouldn’t be. This makes it much harder to fully relax.
In the days before cell phones, there were no expectations of constant contact. A business had a land line—physical tethered to the office—and the expectation was that professionals would only be contacted after hours in the event of an emergency. When one member of staff was on call and perhaps had to briefly step away from home, they’d leave word of where they were going; it was much more challenging to track people down. In old fashioned movies, there would sometimes be a scene where the dance band stopped or the speaker took a break from presenting, and they’d ask, “Is Dr. Jones in the house? Dr. Jones, you’re being paged for an emergency.” There was not the same expectation that someone (short of a governor or president) should be constantly available to address work concerns.
Now that we are all accustomed to having smartphones in our pockets, we feel pressured to respond more quickly. But it’s important to create a clear distinction between your “work” self and your “off-the-clock” self. Ask yourself, “Will my business benefit more from taking these after-hours calls in the short term? Or should I take the long-term holistic view that I’ll be rested, sharper, and more grounded by setting up a mentally healthy lifestyle?”
Of course, it is important for many businesses to provide customer contact after hours. Since most customers prefer to speak with a person instead of a mailbox, an answering service can be the perfect solution. Callers will have the positive experience of interacting with a courteous, well-trained individual instead of that off-putting feeling of wondering when their voicemail will get a response.
Our answering service pros can take the caller’s message, provide basic information, or forward information to your on-call staffer in the event of an actual emergency. It’s amazing how much difference a brief, positive human interaction can make on someone’s first impression!
Preserve your peace of mind by truly unplugging from the office after you leave. With CallStar®’s award-winning services, you be able to trust that your business’s calls are handled in an appropriate and timely fashion. You’ll also be able to trust that your priceless work-life balance is being respected.
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