A Ban On Emails: Who Will This Help?
The French introducing a new law banning work emails after 6pm for employees opens a whole new debate on what are, and what are not, acceptable working hours.
The almost global coverage of smart phones, tablets and internet access has lead to a shift in working patterns for both employees and business owners. Whilst it’s great to be able to keep up with the latest football scores on your journey home from work, it also means that you are open to being contacted by, and being expected to respond to work emails.
But a ban on emails? Who will this help?
There are still people who are of the belief that emails are real time requests for a response, and perhaps this is where the problem truly lies. How often do we receive an email, followed minutes later by another, demanding our attention. It is as if the sender is under the impression that you are sitting at your desk twiddling your thumbs waiting to hear from them.
Yes, we have access to emails whilst out and about but there are times when we simply cannot answer straight away. And in some instances, even if we are in a position to respond immediately, we need to sit back and compose a reply rather than going all guns blazing with a return email.
What about social media?
Alongside the meteoric rise in internet availability came social media – and social media has never been, nor will ever become, a Monday to Friday 9-5 job. Long gone (for most) is the idea of “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest.”
Companies who are successfully using social media for customer relationship management don’t only operate during office hours. The logical continuation for the French ban on out of hours work emails would be a ban on out of hours tweets, Facebook messages, LinkedIn requests, G+ mentions etc, etc.
We are in the midst of a cultural shift, not too far removed from that of the Industrial Revolution – pretty much all of the other businesses we have regular contact with are working far beyond the Monday to Friday 9 – 5: what are the long term consequences of this? Will we all burn out within a year or two? Is this a new form of work ethic? Will we have a mass rebellion at some point with workers not downing tools, but disconnecting from the internet?
I don’t have the answers – all I do know is that there is a huge cultural change taken place right now and we will, as we always have done, adapt to what is required of us to get the job done.