I am a work from home employee in the tech industry. Our office is split pretty evenly between the number of people working from home and those who choose to work in the office. While I like the company, my direct manager has an annoying habit of text messaging throughout the night. He will text as late as midnight and then start up again around 5am. There have been some nights where he sends in excess of a hundred messages because he sends them out as any thought strikes him. Within 10 minutes of the start of the work day, he begins asking for updates on the items he texted during the night. I asked around and he does this equally to all of the people who work from home. The people who work in the office have said he only sends them emails and they ignore them until the next day in the office. I have told him that his excess messaging has become obnoxious and that he is violating our personal time, but he continues to do it. I am loathe to complain to higher management, but this continuous barrage has made me want to quit a job that I love. What should I do?
Tired of Texting
Dear Tired of Texting,
It sounds like there came a point where text messaging was utilized in lieu of your company email and messaging systems. I am guessing this was due to an emergency pandemic that drove workers out of the office without proper preparation. As your coworkers returned to work, so did the internal messaging systems that are usually in place when working on a company computer network. Unfortunately for the work from home crowd, you seem to be at the mercy of a text message chain from hell.
On the bright side, you do get to wear pajamas while you work.
Sure, you may have to put on a jacket from time to time when participating in a video call, but everyone knows you’re wearing fleece pants with adorable cartoon canines plastered all over them underneath your desktop. Unless you want to give up that extremely comfortable perk and return to the office, we need to think of a way to thwart your manager who seems bent on destroying your sanity.
A well-timed GIF should throw your manager off his text game.
Every time your manager messages after the close of the work day, respond with a GIF that has absolutely nothing to do with what he said. Think shark jumping out of the water. Or feline riding on a robot vacuum. One of my personal favorites is bulldog eating a bag of popcorn on the couch. The possibilities are endless thanks to your fellow internet wanderers and their ability to make virtually anything available in GIF form. Just remember that the most important part of this plan is to respond to each message with a different random GIF. When he asks you to explain, remain silent and allow his mind to spin faster and faster until he needs to take a nap to stop the massive headache he has developed.
Then recruit your coworkers to do the same thing.
I am hopeful that a continual onslaught of GIFs from multiple subordinates may cause your manager to pause and evaluate why he is sending all of these messages. However, I have to admit that I am a pessimist at my core. In all reality, responding with GIFs may actually make the problem worse if he’s one of those ‘any attention is good attention’ types of people, which I suspect he may be. How else does one explain over a hundred messages to an employee? Does he not have a family? Or a feline? Or an adorable canine who is in need of a few hours of belly rubs?! Wait. I may have just solved your problem. Gather donations from your coworkers to adopt a canine for your manager.
Puppy piddles should keep him busy for hours each night.
On second thought, that plan is insane. Canines are not gifts to be given lightly. I don’t know what I was thinking. I blame your manager. Even the idea of receiving a hundred messages from a manager at night was enough to give me a moment of madness. Let’s pivot to my other plan, in case you aren’t enamored with the GIF idea. Though I maintain that idea is brilliant and will give you a chuckle as you sort through which one to send him next.
At the close of each work day, simply mute the incoming text messages from your manager.
He will still send them, you will still receive them, but at least your attention won’t be continuously pulled to the beeping on your phone. Simply ignore all work messages until the next day when you clock in to work. When your manager asks for an update a mere 10 minutes into the day, advise him that you’ll send updates as you work through everything he sent the night before. Just because your manager has trouble establishing a work life balance doesn’t mean you have to join him.
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