February 10th, 2017 / Insight posted in Blog

Please leave a message… I’ve disconnected

How often have we called a colleague after business hours?  Do we expect them to answer?  Do we at least expect them to return the call?  Similarly with emails, are we all guilty of sending messages after 5pm?  How many of us check our emails when we get home or while on holiday? Do you feel it is expected by your organisation?

Technology has made it easier than ever to keep connected to work and blur the lines between the office and home.  For some, this offers a degree of flexibility to keep their own hours, but in practice most employees may feel obliged to work their normal hours and also check in once they get home, at the weekend and on holiday.

In France, legislation has been passed which obliges employers with 50 or more employees to negotiate on the right for employees to disconnect.  While there are no penalties as yet for non-compliance, it is expected that employers will agree times during the evenings and weekends when they should not be contactable or expected to respond.  The goal is to encourage a better work life balance.

While is it unlikely that similar legislation will be introduced in the UK any time soon, this raises important questions about employer expectations.  Increasing focus on well-being has emphasised the importance of encouraging employees to switch off.  Ensuring staff get a genuine rest will increase productivity at work and boost morale and engagement, meaning the organisation benefits in the longer term.

Of course, there will always be times when a deadline needs to be met, or an incident occurs that requires being dealt with immediately, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. So next time you go to send that email at 8pm, think – do you need a reply that evening or can it wait until the morning?