Sabbath Rest in the Age of E-mail

Our leadership team has been asking how we can model healthy work-life balance.  We believe that organizations are healthier in every way when they honor Sabbath principles.

For many years we’ve had a hard-working, intense institutional culture.  Most of us like this kind of an environment.  We work hard because we like our work.  We like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with achieving big goals.

We don’t want to change our community’s zest for our work.  But we also believe that IWU will be an even better place if we model healthy Sabbath principles.

Email has become one of the greatest blessings of our working lives.  It is also one of the greatest thieves of healthy work-life balance.

So we’ve created a simple protocol to help us manage this marvelous management tool.  I offer here in case it might be useful to others wrestling with this marvelous tool.

Public Nature of Email and Texts

We will remember that email and texts sent via the university’s systems are public documents that belong to the university.  They are not confidential.


While it is appropriate to create a lengthy email to give context, offer opinions, and perspective, we will not try to solve complex management issues without sitting down at a table and discussing them in person.


We will not try to resolve conflict via email or texts.  If someone sends us an email or text that creates or suggests conflict we will ask for a personal meeting.

Reply All

We will only use Reply All when the original sender is requesting feedback from the group or we believe our response would be important for everyone to see.  An example of when not to use Reply All: Someone sends an email to a large group and our response is simply “Thank You” or “I appreciate the update.”

Blind Copies

We will use Blind Copy sparingly.

We will not send work emails or texts, except in emergencies or in conducting planned weekend events, from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
We will designate a leader in charge of our areas when we go on vacation.  Our automatic out-of-office reply will provide some message as follows:

“If your message is urgent please contact _______________.  If you still need a reply after _______________ please re-send your message at that time to ensure a response.  While your message is important to me, IWU believes in the importance of rest and rejuvenation, so we are asked not to read and respond to work emails while on vacation.”