Should Employers Ban After-Hours Work Email?

Should Employers Ban After-Hours Work Email? (via Dice News in Tech)

Earlier this month, two French employee unions decided to show how they felt about work/life balance by signing a legally binding agreement that would forbid employees from checking work email after a long day at their desks. The agreement will affect…

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  1. Having spent the past 35 years in dealing with global supply chain and sales and marketing management, I have been confronted with this for quite some time. My approach has been, using the old golfing adage, to play each situation as it lies.

    If a question or concern arises in Sverdlovsk or Berlin during their work day (but not during mine), they need an answer. The timing of the response with that answer depends upon the business critical nature of the request. Having never been a business person with my nose glued to my fax machine, email account or SMART phone (but one who excelled at customer service), I have always done the necessary due diligence to evaluate the inquiry on the fly, and respond accordingly. Some issues demand response now, and some can wait.

    I still recall babysitters getting phone calls at my home on a Sunday night from process engineers in Japan at a job site, sending the poor teenagers watching my kids into a tizzy! And, yes-I did return the call to Yokohama in the middle of my night to get them up and running again.

    I worked for a company so addicted to internal email that immediate response was demanded. Talk about a completely non-Lean way to do business! So, your demand for knowledge is clearly more critical than anything my job (even if you don’t don’t know WHAT I do…) entails, so I’ll drop what I am doing. I went to responding to emails once each hour, and was amazed at how much more I actually got done-for everyone!

    How about a suggestion to the French, or anyone considering this approach-train your people in common sense to make the critical decisions on what is critical and what is not? Because something shows up on a Snapchat, or text or email does not necessarily mean than a global nuclear strike is imminent….

    Have we not created our own issue here? To quote the eminently insightful Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”

    • Great insight from the frontlines of business Scott. You fundamental concept of making a balanced “judgement” all based on each situation makes far too much sense, versus the “across-the-board” one-size fits all contemplated within the Article. Thanks for sharing!

    • I agree that it’s nonsense to make this idea of restricting work communication to normal working hours an all or nothing rule. It makes more sense to, as Scott says, let the situation dictate. Times zones certainly are a factor, but so are circumstances of events. What I might consider important, someone else might consider minimally essential. There should be freedom to choose whether to check email, or voicemail, or receive texts after hours. If I work effectively all day and do my best to connect all the dots of my responsibilities, I can, with a clear conscience put my email and phone away without feeling like a slacker. On the otherhand, if I went through the day distracted and unproductive, I should be willing to resolve a couple things after the lights in the office are turned out. Opinions on this are many because the topic is a menagerie of converging factors, personalities, preferences, and principles. Is it a glowing candle of a flaming blowtorch? Depends on your point of view and your vantage point.