checking email at home

Fettered by email

The French folk have a longer lifespan than most others in Europe, and are less likely to die due to a cardio vascular disease. Their food, well … we know what that is like. This is the notorious “French Paradox“, which epidemiologists have puzzled over for decades. A Harvard study could not find enough evidence to prove that low-fat food would reduce the occurrence of cardio vascular diseases. So, what is this about?

Not very clear, but this might be linked to the type (not about fat content) of diet, amount of stress, amount of exercise and general lifestyle. That seems to make sense. How about the French working 35 hours a week (since the year 2000 legislation)?

How about not living life at a break neck speed? How about not having to check and having to respond to email after work hours? Did I touch a raw nerve there?

Agreed, the world is different now and the needs of the workplace are different too. The proliferation of gadgets does help one remain constantly connected, but surely is bringing in a set of expectations, and work into one’s personal life.

France has just sent out a strong recommendation to all organizations with more than 50 employees to not send email to their employees after work hours. Have the ever-expanding expectations around an employees availability has surely gotten out of hand. David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, and the founder of Basecamp, vehemently agrees and says “Work emails are ticking in at all sorts of odd hours and plenty of businesses are dysfunctional enough to believe they have a right to have those answered, whatever the hour. That’s unhealthy, possibly even exploitative.”

It isn’t only about expectation of availability after work hours, but also during an employee’s personal time off. Many people do feel obligated to carry and use their devices to vacation. Does that really help the organization in the long-term?

The other, relatively, continuing fad across many new age companies is the open office. Surely, that does improve collaboration but it also takes away privacy and adds to distraction. There surely is a likelihood that it would reduce individual productivity as well. A 2013 study found that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance.

Maybe the time for another round of changes in the work culture, and work environment is nigh.

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