Yesterday, at the first staff meeting since my new boss took the helm of our unwieldy ship of nurses, she unceremoniously---and rather spontaneously, I think---announced that we will be closing the office at 4:00pm for the summer, in order to encourage self-care and reduce stress. The phones are supposed to be turned off, the answering service engaged one hour early, and the on-call Nurse Practitioners ready to begin their weekend of call one hour sooner. The announcement was met with great enthusiasm, as well as a modicum of cynicism that this directive would actually get anyone out the door before 5:00 when the proverbial whistle blows. In an office of chronic overachievers, leaving early is not always on everyone's to-do list, although I manage to do it a few times each week, myself.
So today, the first Friday that the new early closure was in place, I looked up at the clock as I raced through the office for the umpteenth time to notice that it was 4:20pm. I noticed that the administrative staff were still at their desks answering phones. I turned to their supervisor and asked, "So, I thought we were turning off the phones at 4:00?" She looked at me and replied, "Well, honey, nobody seems to be leaving, so we're here until you do."
Turning the corner, I ran into our new boss and explained the situation. Her reaction was clear. "I want the administrative staff to get out of here at 4 on Fridays. They work hard enough. The nurses can stay and torture themselves if they want to, but everyone is free to take off. Period."
We smiled at each other, and agreed that next Friday would be better. Maybe an offer of free beer on Fridays would help these chronic nose-grinders relinquish their death-grip on the phone and mouse? Whatever it takes, next Friday we'll try to make sure that the office is dark at 4, and that the denizens of our overcrowded establishment shake loose their shackles and begin their weekend just a little bit earlier.