The report notes other companies that have done the same, including the maker of Persil washing powder, which has declared an e-mail “amnesty” for its workers between Christmas and New Year’s. The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor recently wrote that the French company Atos has banned internal e-mail altogether.
In 2008, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that employees with company phones often worked more than 50 hours a week, with 62 percent saying that having the gadgets triggered demands that they work more hours; 38 percent said that the demands increased “a lot.” And cellphone use has only increased since then.
The average American works about 8.6 hours a day, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and time-use analysis shows that about one-10th of Americans are working outside normal work hours. Around 17 percent of employed Americans are working between 5 and 6 a.m., for example, and 12 percent are working between 10 and 11 p.m. While the labor data don’t mention the impact that work-issued devices have on this extra work time, those percentages outside of normal work hours have been steadily rising in recent years.
A complete ban on work e-mails may not be the solution for everyone, the report said. For example, work e-mails may wind up being rerouted to personal e-mail addresses, blurring the line between work and personal lives even further. But the policies do stand as evidence that businesses are starting to recognize the impact of an always-connected job.
“The issue of employees using BlackBerrys, computers and other devices out of working time is a growing one that needs to be addressed as it can be a source of stress,” Trades Union Congress secretary general Brendan Barber told the BBC. But, he added, “ [by] working in partnership with their union, Volkswagen’s policy will have the support of all their employees. Where employers simply introduce policies on their own, however well-meaning they may be, they are unlikely to be successful.”
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