Email Etiquette in our 24/7 World

Emailing on the beach

My friend, Peggy Dolane, writer and social media expert , suggested I write a blog post about our 24/7-reachable-anytime-world. She wondered what the etiquette is about sending and responding to emails after hours. Good question Peggy.

Growing up, I was told to never call anyone after 9pm. That rule still holds true. I actually tend to cut the time off at 8:30 unless I know the person well and know they don’t mind. But, that’s the phone. Email is less intrusive. People can choose to ignore an email until business hours and that is perfectly acceptable.

However, it is rude for a sender to expect people to respond to email after business hours. Unless you have told someone they can contact you after hours, business hours must be respected. This holds true for business owners and those in the corporate world. While employees may be salaried, it does not mean a colleague or manager can expect an employee to read their emails over the weekend. I know, this probably goes against many in the fast paced tech industry, but people need time to rest and relax.

It’s important we “unplug” from email and other work related digital devises after business hours. Americans aren’t very good about relaxing. We tend to eschew taking our vacation time and we work all the time. I believe that is contributing to how unhealthy we are as a society. We need time to unwind and connect with family and friends. When we do take a vacation, isn’t it interesting that when you return to work people almost always say “you look so rested”? It’s because working all the time makes us stressed out and it shows on our faces.

So Peggy, go ahead and respond to or send email after hours if you must, but don’t expect others to do the same. Non-business hours should be respected.

Readers, what are your thoughts on this? Have you been asked to be at the ready and respond to emails after business hours? If so, how do you feel about this? Are you someone who sends emails after hours and expects them to be answered? I’d love to hear what you think.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Lauren on May 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I send email whenever I want. There are times when I’ll do a lot of emailing between 8pm and midnight. I don’t expect anyone else to do this. I have a staff of four and it wouldn’t dawn on me to be upset if they didn’t respond THAT night. I give folks a 24 hour work turnaround in general. If it’s that urgent, I think the phone is most appropriate.

    I do think there are some work environments where people are on email all day and everyone is expected to be online during those 8-10 hours…I don’t work in that environment.

    I like same-day communication, but sometimes more time is needed depending on the email.


  2. Val on June 16, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I would be curious about your thoughts on salutations used in business e-mail. In today’s world is the word “Dear” used as widely as it used to be? What about the differences between “Sincerely”, “Regards”, or “Best Regards”.

  3. Arden Clise on June 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Hello Val,

    I don’t see “Dear” in email salutations very often, but it’s certainly appropriate. I tend to use “Hello” or “Hi”. For closings “Sincerely” and “Best regards” are both fine. “Regards” might be a bit casual.

    Even though email is more casual than a written business letter, salutations and closings are still important.

    Thanks for commenting.

  4. Agapeme on September 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Why would we not use the same etiquette with sending emails as we used with the phone? Don’t email or call after 9pm since smart phones notify and there are business, children and other personal reasons why some would want to leave phone notifications on at night. I know I am going to hear from the night owl workers and the early bird disturbers.  Go ahead make your millions and at your funeral will throw a lap top in your casket.

  5. ArdenClise on September 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

     Thank you for your comments. I think there is merit in not sending email after 9pm. I really believe it’s important to unplug and we can’t when our smart phones are buzzing and tweeting with late hour or weekend emails. Non-business hours should be respected as non-business.

  6. Carole on September 26, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I agree with everything you said, OK to send after hours, but not OK to expect response after hours. I sometimes have to (delicately) guide clients in this who want me to be available (even by phoe) on nights and w/e.
    Also agree about salutations, especailly closing with Sincerely or Best Regards–this is a must do. Oops, I just realized I sent an email without one. Yikes. My bad.

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