Of course, there may be some professions where it’s impossible to switch off the smartphone and forget about work. But if you think most of the out-of-hours work-related emails you receive really could wait till you’re back in the workplace, then you may be interested to know what Volkswagen has done in Germany.
In order to provide a better work/life balance for some of its employees, the carmaker has agreed to stop sending out emails from its BlackBerry servers once their shift has finished.
The arrangement means that Volkswagen employees based in Germany working under trade union negotiated contracts will no longer be bothered by work-related emails when they’re off-site. Smartphones belonging to senior management will, however, continue to flash or buzz whenever a work-related message comes in, regardless of whether they’re relaxing in the bath or asleep in bed.
The system has been set up so that the company’s servers stop sending emails 30 minutes after an employee finishes work. Emails can be sent from the servers again 30 minutes before a worker’s shift starts. Of course, employees can still use their smartphones in the normal way when they’re not at work.
Many have long argued that being in touch with work the whole time increases stress levels and in the long term adversely affects productivity levels.
“It’s bad for the individual worker’s performance being online and available 24-7,” said Will Hutton, chair of the UK-based Big Innovation Centre. “You do need downtime, you do need periods in which you can actually reflect on something without needing instantaneously to give a reaction.”
He added, “It has a poor impact on an individual’s well-being. I think that one has to patrol quite carefully the borderline between work and non-work.”
If you’re in a job where out-of-hours emails are the norm, what percentage of them do you think could wait till you’re back in the workplace?