What do I do about this boss who sends me texts late at night?

Friday July 17 2020


By Jane Muiruri

Dear Jane,
My supervisor keeps sending me WhatsApp messages from as early as 6am and as late as 11pm both on weekends and weekdays about irrelevant work matters. This is affecting my emotional and mental health. I want to spend time with my friends and family after work, not to engage in idle talk with my supervisor. How do I tell him that I don’t want to receive his texts when off duty? Ki

Dear Ki,
With the disruption brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, working is no longer being defined by being physically present in the office. You are expected to meet your objectives by working remotely. Official working hours vary depending on the industry.

In case your company operates on 24-hour basis, you might need to be more flexible. There are also fields where ignoring a call or message at whatever time of the night might mean losing human life. Therefore, my response is based on the assumption that your company does not provide essential services.
You need to establish working protocols such that your supervisor is aware of the hours you are available for consultation. Speak with him and agree on key priority areas that you should focus on. By the end of every week, meet again for a debrief. This might eliminate the need for him to frequently reach out to you during your free time.

You could, for example, just politely say that you spend your weekends engaging in sports or a hobby, which keeps you away from your phone. Request the supervisor to text you in the event of an emergency so that you can respond when you get back to your phone. This way, he won’t expect you to return calls or
I agree that your professional and social life are both very important. You must cultivate relationships out of the work space lest you find yourself with no one to turn to when you eventually retire or leave your current job.

WhatsApp is an accepted mode of communication to facilitate work, so you can’t ignore the messages. What you could do is delay your responses or say that you will address the issues raised once you resume work. You have to be cautious when resolving this issue because it is quite sensitive. I suggest that you note down the number of times you have received official calls and WhatsApp messages to avoid raising a storm in a teacup.

Jane Muiruri,
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group