France has taken a step towards improving the work-life balance with rules being introduced for a million employees in the digital and consulting sectors to protect them from receiving work emails outside of office hours… A deal has been struck between employers and unions & federations which enforces that employees will have to switch off work phones and avoid looking at work emails outside of office hours (before 9am and after 6pm) and staff are not made to feel pressured into checking messages outside of these times. This follows on from the Volkswagen company in Germany successfully implementing a technical intervention in 2011 and banning out of hours working by stopping their servers sending emails 30 minutes after the end of the working day. This meant workers were physically unable to pick up new correspondence.
The UK does have enforcements in place regarding the Working Time Regulations, however, these were put in place in the 1990s, before the rise in popularity and reliance on technology has ‘redrawn the working day’ and as the BBC explains, the regulations have not ‘caught up’. Anyone with a Smartphone can usually be reached at all hours of the day. It can disrupt and ruin your evenings and weekends if you receive an email which automatically sends you back into work mode and worrying about a situation or project you need to deal with.
A ‘Daily Turn Off’ at 6pm does sound like a great proposition, where you automatically switch to home-mode and forget all about the troubles of the work day. But how feasible actually is this? This would restrict those who require flexible working hours or who use the commuting time on trains to respond to emails. Additionally, if you are required to communicate with colleagues in different countries, then the differences in time zones could be an issue.
How would you feel if your company restricted emails outside of work hours? Would this benefit or restrict you?