Gideon Lichfield: Exactly.

Lauren Goode: And you can actually pause.

Gideon Lichfield: Yes, and that’s what makes it simple, because there are 17 different apps but only one phone.

Lauren Goode: But then do you, like, wake up in the morning, and at 6 in the morning you’ve gone a blissful eight hours of sleep and there’s an email from Anna Wintour addressed to you and you’re like, “Wow, I really should not have put my phone down for this long.”

Gideon Lichfield: No, it’s more like, “I really should not have picked up my phone just now. I should have waited and gone, had breakfast and some coffee and done some exercise and then picked up the phone, and Anna Wintour can wait.” Sorry, Anna.

Lauren Goode: Wow, you heard it here first. Dare I say that is remarkably healthy, not specifically to your boss, but to any boss.

Gideon Lichfield: That would be the ideal. I’m not saying that that is what I actually achieve every morning, but that is what I aspire to do. But I do think what Lidiane said is very important about establishing culture. On Slack now, you can schedule messages to not be sent until the next morning, but I think you also just have to establish a workplace culture that says if you get a Slack from me outside your normal working hours, I don’t expect you to respond.

Lauren Goode: Isn’t that in some way the ultimate form of tech solutionism though? That, “Oh look, they’ve added this feature where you can schedule something. They’re fixing the problem that all of this software helped create.”

Gideon Lichfield: Right, but that’s why I’m saying that it also has to be a matter of culture. Like you can have the Schedule Message button, but I think you also should just establish the expectation that if somebody sends you a message outside working hours, then they shouldn’t expect a response unless they absolutely need one, and if they absolutely need one, that’s what phone calling is for.

Lauren Goode: I think it all goes back to the Away message. I think we have to return to the days of AOL instant messenger Away messages.

Gideon Lichfield: Which you can have on Slack though, can’t you? 

Lauren Goode: You can, but no one pays attention to them. I talked about this with Lidiane. It was like the customer complaint line. I was like, “And by the way, let me tell you this thing that happened in Slack,” and even when I silence notifications on one device, I could hear like the notifications sound from Slack coming through my iPad across the room.

Gideon Lichfield: But were you responding to these messages? 

Lauren Goode: I was. I was. And I even hopped on a Zoom with you and another editor that day.

Gideon Lichfield: So I feel like you’re blaming the software. I mean, yes, the sick emoji exists to signal that you are sick, but you’re also, I think, enabling other people’s behavior if you respond to it. In other words, if you put up the sick emoji and other people message you, maybe they’re interpreting the sick emoji to mean, “OK, I can message her, but I don’t expect a response from her.” And if you do respond, then you are the one actually who’s breaking the compact rather than them.

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