We all find it difficult to switch off from technology. Work email being accessible on phones has blurred the lines between home and the office. Companies worried about these blurred lines are taking steps to stop employees from working outside work hours. Volkswagen has set up systems so that emails can only be sent to employees’ phones from half an hour before the working day starts and for half an hour after it ends, and never at weekends. Lidl in Belgium has also banned internal emails between 6pm and 7am to help staff switch off.
Could this method of trying to protect your employees cause them more harm than good? The University of Sussex has done research which suggests a blanket ban might help some staff to switch off but might result in other employees not achieving their goals and causing stress.
A better plan might be to allow people to deal with email in a way which suits their personalities and allows them to feel like they are managing their workload. Some people might appreciate, or need, flexible working patterns that necessitate some work outside normal hours. The key for employers is to ensure they have a policy that sets out clear parameters for working outside normal hours. Employees need to know that it is a genuine choice, rather than a compulsion.
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