Since we had access to instant messaging, with our mobile devices at the reach of our hands most of the time, we might feel bad whenever we’re unable to respond to messages right away.
But is the feeling justifiable?
From What If We Just Stopped Being So Available?:
Granted, there can be real consequences to responding slowly in a culture that considers idleness, or even just the appearance of it, to be a moral shortcoming. This is especially true at work: Even if being responsive at all hours has no bearing on an employee’s actual productivity, many bosses lazily use it as a proxy for gauging workers’ value.
There are really times when a response can wait for tomorrow.
But as a person with life and responsibilities, you must have the decency to identify what is urgent from what is not.
And I don’t think it helps to reach out to people super late at night or at the wee hours of the day (especially when you are in the same time zone) and expect a response from them. Do you think they are always on their mobile phones all the time? Have you ever thought they have families to attend to and that they’re humans who need sleep too?
However, I tolerate receiving emails from global clients during my off hours because I understand the time zone difference. And they also understand that when they’re awake on the other side of the world, I am still under my sheets dozing off. That means they don’t expect me to respond right away.
And perhaps it’s okay to delay a reply when you don’t have the time to compose a response at the moment. But if the concern must be addressed as soon as possible, and you can make time to craft an answer, then it’s plain cruel to just let it sit around and let the person on the other line waiting.