As I was discussing a social media strategy for a potential client this week, something they said rang in my ear for a few days. “I never turn my phone off. I even sleep with it because I’m afraid I’m going to miss that one important call or email.”
Her comment immediately took me back to my daughter being home for Christmas and sleeping with her phone. As I watched her sleep (not in a creepy way come on, I’m her Mom) I noticed she kept waking up and texting her friends back who had texted her during the night. I asked her “How in the world do you ever sleep?” To which she just shrugged her shoulders.
A few months back Volkswagen announced that they shut down workers’ BlackBerry email service at night as part of an agreement with labor representatives. The reasoning behind this decision? To create a better work-life balance.
Here is the full story at Wired.
The decision to shut down email service at night was made to protect the 1,154 non-exempt Volkswagen employees from spending 24-hours around the clock attached to their work email. The BlackBerry can still be used for telephone purposes during ‘blackout’ times, email is the only capability that has reportedly been curbed.
The agreement specifies that unionized workers will see their email turned off a half-hour after the workday ends, and won’t have email access again until a half-hour before the next workday begins.
At this time reports say this agreement only affects workers employed at Volkswagen’s six plants in Germany working under collective bargaining, employees outside Germany are not a part of any BlackBerry use restrictions. Additionally, any executive level employees are also exempt from this new requirement.
It’s also been reported in recent months that burnout has become an issue for many workers. Many other German companies, such as Deutsche Telekom and Henkel, have also imposed less stringent restrictions, recognizing that too much connectivity isn’t always a good thing and breaks are necessary.
Reuters reported, “German IT body Bitkom published a study this year showing that 88 percent of German workers are reachable for clients, colleagues and bosses by e-mail or mobile phone outside of working hours, compared with only 73 percent two years ago.”
The VW works council explained that modern communication capabilities “also pose dangers.” Some members of management may expect staff are “always available” and receive emails after work hours. This agreement will curb that idea. Their spokesperson was noted saying:
“The operating agreement provides that the server is for the BlackBerrys of exempt employees for half an hour before and half an hour down at the end of flextime,” said Thust. “The agreement was received very positively.”
Smartphones are often blamed for the lines of the work-life balance being crossed. This has a high potential for essentially never-ending the workday if a boss expects round-the-clock connectivity or an employee feels pressured to stay connected in order to keep their job.
The New York Times reported earlier this year, “There’s a palpable sense “that home has invaded work and work has invaded home and the boundary is likely never to be restored,” says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “The new gadgetry,” he adds, “has really put this issue into much clearer focus.”
These days there are many other reasons that we feel we MUST stay connected off-hours. (Think FACEBOOK). Why must we feel like we cannot turn it off? What is really THAT important?
Are we really concerned that we will miss that most important business call or are we so narcissistic that we will die if we don’t see how many “likes” we received from our amazing status updates?
I’ve been down that road. But I’ve made it a policy for some time now to turn my phone off at 9:00 PM. And / or during times with family where I don’t need the interruption. In my opinion, nothing is too important that it cannot wait from 9:00 PM – 6:00 AM. My family and friends have my home number and know where to reach me.
Experts say you should turn the phone off at night and keep it in another room, other than your bedroom. So you won’t have the temptation to check it in the middle of the night.
What’s your take?
Read more on VW’s policies: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/316649#ixzz1hehJUq45