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Free Email TutorialsEmail EtiquetteReplying to work emails after business hours, weekends, or vacation - Email Etiquette

Replying to work emails after business hours, weekends, or vacation - Email Etiquette

The previous, "Reply and Reply to All" tutorial explained guidelines you can follow the determine whether or not you should respond to email messages you receive, based on a number of factors. In this tutorial, we will give you pointers for emails you receive "after hours", including weekends, personal days off, vacations, and official holidays. These tips will of course depend on a couple of things, including your position in the company, whether you are self-employed or not, if these messages are sent to your professional or personal email address, and much more. This discussion will hopefully clarify your plan of action in balancing professionalism and ambition for advancement, the dangers of setting bad precedents, and the dangers of not being willing to "go the extra mile". Fax, phone, and internet and now web-enabled devices have blurred the lines between work and private life.

Three basic cases of "after-hours" emails

Let's first distinguish between two types of email users: you can either be an employee or self-employed (for the purpose of this tutorial, upper- and top-management falls between two categories, so take your pick!) Thanks to the popularity of smartphones, and even low-cost handheld cell phones that support email, your work follows you everywhere you go.

Let's now assume that you just arrived home, or finished dinner, or are about to go to bed: in other words, you clearly are "off the clock". If you receive a work-related email, here are a few tips to determine the importance of that message, and act accordingly: note that just because your co-workers or boss doesn't have email manners doesn't mean you should forget about email etiquette yourself!

Tip: without being crass, try to make sure that others eventually know that you went out of your way to accommodate work if you do. Saying "no problem" will not only degrade the value of your dedication, but worst, it will send the message that you thought it completely normal to get emails from work after hours, or during vacations.


As you see, there's no clear-cut answer, and the actions you take, if any, are yours to ponder. As final word of advice, never to reply too quickly to an email message sent to you "after hours" - this kind of (servile) availability will also set a bad precedent in terms of expectations! Respect work, but also respect yourself and your family.

Email Etiquette Tutorial & Tips Compose & send messages Email Recipients: To, Cc, Bcc Email Titles / Subject Lines Quotations and Punctuation Capitalization and Acronyms Using emoticons ("smileys") Low-High Importance & Priority Reply and Reply to All Replying to professional emails after hours / during holidays
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