About This Policy
The purpose of this civility policy is to help internal and external clientele of Studio One to maximize their performance by striking a balance between quality of response versus responsiveness itself. We believe that e-mail and instant messaging are powerful communications tools. Nevertheless, poorly used they can lead to distractions, a higher volume of lower-quality communications and an overall decline in productivity.
Many of our customers and partners agree with this sentiment. In December 2014, an article published by The Guardian stated: “As Nicholas Carr noted in The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains, repeated exposure to online media demands a cognitive change from deeper intellectual processing, such as focused and critical thinking, to fast autopilot processes, such as skimming and scanning, shifting neural activity from the hippocampus (the area of the brain involved in deep thinking) to the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain engaged in rapid, subconscious transactions). In other words, we are trading speed for accuracy and prioritize impulsive decision-making over deliberate judgment.”
Further, as reported in a 2013 article in The Wall Street Journal, “…it takes more than 25 minutes, on average, to resume a task after being interrupted. After resuming a complex task such as design or programming, says Tom DeMarco, co-author of “Peopleware,”…it takes an additional 15 minutes to regain the same intense focus or “flow” as before the interruption, based on an 800-employee study…”
Our policy consists of the Nine Pillars of Creating and Sending Productive Electronic Communications.
The pillars are:
1. Respect Your Recipient(s)
2. Respond Well Rather Than Reactively
3. Connect on a Schedule — and Disconnect
4. Communicate Rather Than Inundate
5. Use Proper Grammar and Style
6. Be Frugal With Your Distribution List
7. In an Emergency, Use the Phone
8. Discretion and Decorum
9. Avoid Unnecessary Interruptions
By implementing this policy, we will strengthen our internal working relationships, provide better service to our customers and communicate effectively without sacrificing productivity. Moreover, if we can encourage other companies to adopt our policy in whole or in part, we believe we will have started a movement toward managed communications that will benefit the overall business environment.
Pillar 1: Respect Your Recipient(s)
Make sure you are cordial and polite — it should be your goal to make your recipients smile when they see an e-mail from you. Continued use of this practice over time will improve Studio One’s corporate image and also improve the timeliness and quality of the communications that others send to us.
Pillar 2: Respond Well Rather Than Reactively
For communications that require research or considerable thought, it is better to respond correctly and with all the information rather than right away with incorrect or incomplete information. Responding right away may appear to save time, but in fact, if the response is incorrect or incomplete, it actually creates more work both for yourself and your recipient. According to W. Edwards Demming, “The contribution of quality to production is less re-work.” Further, by responding incorrectly or incompletely, you erode the confidence that your recipient has in you, forcing them to check over your communications for accuracy and completeness. If necessary, notify your recipient that a response will take some time, ask when he or she needs it by and prioritize accordingly.
Pillar 3: Connect on a Schedule – and Disconnect
The source of interruptions that cause a drop in productivity and quality is your e-mail browsing program. We recommend that you only check and respond to new e-mails three times during the day: upon your arrival at your desk, during the early afternoon and before departing for the evening. Avoid continuous partial attention. You should be able to reduce the amount of time you spend checking and responding to new communications to two hours per day. When you are not on your scheduled e-mail time, we suggest that you disable the automatic “Send/Receive” function, or at the very least turn off your desktop e-mail alerts. You may send e-mail anytime, but you should not expect a response right away.
Pillar 4: Communicate Rather Than Inundate
Remember that you are communicating with people who, like yourself, are busy and often overwhelmed with e-mails. Keep communications brief, both in terms of the content of each individual communication and the number of communications you send to a given person. Provide all the information that your recipient requires — no more, no less. If you receive multiple e-mails from the same person, consolidate your responses to all of them in a single e-mail.
Pillar 5: Use Proper Grammar and Style
Always proofread before hitting “Send.” Refer to Merriam-Webster for spelling or meaning questions and your Studio One style guide for usage and grammar questions. Further, you may find it helpful to read your e-mails out loud to yourself before sending to ensure that your message is clear.
Pillar 6: Be Frugal With Your Distribution List
Everyone has had experience being copied on an e-mail or chain of e-mails that, while not embarrassing or detrimental, is irrelevant and a waste of time. Ensure that your communications go to all the people that require them — but only to those people.
Pillar 7: In an Emergency, Use the Phone
What do you do if an emergency situation arises that requires a response in short order? Do not send an e-mail. There are numerous ways to contact people. You can pick up the phone and call them, or better yet, get up and walk to their desks. Even in nonemergency situations, a face-to-face conversation may be more effective in producing your desired result. Use judgment on the most effective channel for your message.
Pillar 8: Discretion and Decorum
Digital communications are preserved indefinitely, and when you click “Send,” you attach your name (and Studio One) to your message. Avoid sending sensitive information via e-mail, especially to persons not employed by Studio One or under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). If you must convey such information, it is better to do so over the phone. Regarding appropriateness, avoid gossip, potentially offensive comments or jokes or controversial topics. Refer to Studio One’s Wholesomeness Policy if you are unsure of what would be considered appropriate.
“In a man’s life, decorum is what wins the approval of those around him, which shines in its regularity and consistency, and in unfailing sobriety of speech and action.”
–Cicero, De Offiicis, I. 28. 98.
Pillar 9: Avoid Unnecessary Interruptions
Remember, it takes roughly 8 uninterrupted minutes for the average human brain to get into a really creative state. We all keep to-do lists, and every single interruption makes it more difficult for us to complete our tasks for the day. As a result, many of us elect to come in early or stay late to avoid interruptions. Therefore, this ninth pillar is designed to minimize interruptions and allow us to complete our work during the normal work day.
Before requesting the attention of a co-worker ask yourself “do I need this person’s help immediately to avoid serious consequences?” If the answer is yes, you may send an instant message, approach their desk or dial their extension.
If the answer is no, please consider that this co-worker has many other tasks to complete and send your request in an e-mail for him to respond as his schedule allows. If you have multiple, non-emergency requests for the same co-worker, please see Pillar 4 and consolidate them all in a single e-mail.