Excerpt featuring Randy Brandoff, SVP and CMO at NetJets, from “The @Work State of Mind Project” – a joint effort of gyro, award-winning global b2b agency, and Forbes Insights. To download the complete report go to www.gyro.com/atwork.
The transition to a world where individuals increasingly conduct business outside the office has been so seamless that it’s difficult for many managers to pinpoint where employees are making most of their decisions. They see the advantages for their organizations when workers can engage at all hours. As long as they are making good decisions, it doesn’t generally concern them how and where they are rendered. “More of your waking hours are devoted to thinking through some office elements,” says Randy Brandoff, SVP and CMO of NetJets, a Cleveland-based provider of shared aircraft ownership. “There’s so much activity from conversations, meetings, conference calls, travel in the day-to-day job that, at this point, fewer decisions are being made in the office.”
Brandoff says that he rarely if ever disconnects for more than a day from his professional life. “That’s a lot, including vacations,” he deadpans. Rather, Brandoff escapes in small snippets, a half-hour in the morning to spend time with his baby, an hour or two in the evenings to spend time with his wife and child. On weekends, he usually responds to emails in half-hour to two-hour blocks.
This high level of readiness is perhaps more important at NetJets, which has jets in the air at any time, than at some other companies. Last year the company faced the added burden of assimilating Marquis Jet, a former competitor that the company had acquired the previous year. Brandoff and his team had to work particularly hard creating new marketing materials to address the firms’ combined resources. “Starting in the first quarter, we wanted to hit the ground running on integrating the brands and the companies and the team, and not skip a beat from a marketing and business sales standpoint,” he says. “There was a great deal of work to do and time pressure.”
Brandoff says that even skipping a day of email can lead to lengthy backlogs requiring hours of catch-up. “If I were to take a week and not look or respond to emails, I could literally have 2,000 to 3,000 emails that I would come back to, 15 to 20 hours’ worth of catching up where, by the way, I’d be getting 200 to 300 more emails.”
Yet Brandoff does not expect his charges to respond right away. He says that part of effective management in an always-on business climate is enabling employees to maintain a sound balance between career and home life. For example, he requires only that his subordinates respond to emails in “an appropriate amount of time,” unless marked urgent. And he tries not to impose on individuals’ free time. “If you get an email at a moment when you’re able to respond, people respond, but they’re not in any way, shape or form required to,” Brandoff says. “I’ll sometimes be cleaning up emails while someone I know is on vacation, and I’ll say before they go away: ‘following up on a handful of things. Please wait until your return to deal with this.’”