Office Hours: you know, that thing you swore you’d attend in college but never really did. Professors have office hours to give students a chance to get a hold of them outside of class. How do YOU communicate to your colleagues when you’re available for questions? Why not try this…
One of my favorite things about running time management workshops is that I always learn something in the process. This week I spoke to NHS Phoenix and had a blast meeting some truly fabulous people. One man shared that he puts his availability in his email signature. For example: “I return phone calls between the hours of 2 and 4pm” or “I return emails three times a day, at 8, 12, and 3.”
I love this concept because it gives people a reasonable expectation when they can expect to hear from you, so they don’t get upset with their communication isn’t immediately returned.
If having regular hours like this doesn’t work for you, maybe giving a broad time frame would work better. For example, “I try my best to return all communications within 24 hours.” While that might seem obvious (of course we want to be prompt with our communications) it reminds people that they can’t really be upset if they haven’t heard back from you 20 minutes later.
So what are your “office hours?” Remember, people need to get a hold of you, and if you haven’t conveyed when communication is convenient to you, people will be left to guess or assume, and you know that they say about assumptions.