On 1 January 2017, a new law came into force in France, giving workers a legal ‘right to disconnect’ from emails in the evening and at weekends. It states that businesses with over 50 employees must create a charter of good conduct, setting out when employees should and shouldn’t answer emails.
This seems quite a drastic measure to take, but does it have some merit?
The Mental Health Foundation states that: “The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population.”
Furthermore, it’s also argued that the ‘always available and switched on’ culture is not only damaging to the health of employees but also business productivity and job satisfaction.
Therefore, employers have a responsibility to support a sustainable work-life balance for its employees. To achieve a shift in culture, changes should be seen and communicated from the top, with managers leading the way.
A couple of initiatives I’ve seen are:
- Out of office replies that request the sender to contact the recipient on their return from annual leave and that their original email will be deleted; and
- A ban on the use of mobile phones in meetings (this sets the tone inside of work hours to create boundaries generally).