Should work emails be banned after 6pm?

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Recently the internet exploded with the rumour that our French neighbours were banned from answering emails after 6pm, sounds too good to be true? Well technically it was. Somewhere along the lines, things got lost in translation. No laws were passed and sadly, for the entire working population of France, they won’t be clocking off the second the clock strikes six. 

The “obligation to disconnect” agreement in fact acknowledges that independent workers have the right to take a solid chunk of time off every day, and rightly so- they are not governed by the 35 hour workweek or 10 hour day limit.

Today we seem to be working longer and harder, and with this six o’clock dream finish in mind, we weigh up whether disconnecting early evening would ever be a possibility for UK workers.

How it’s influencing us

Brits are known for being polite, and when it comes to our work typically we take the same approach. A large proportion of workers find it hard to say no to demands made outside of working hours, and consider it higher priority over things requiring attention at home. It seems like we never switch off. The worst part is that most of us actually feel worse afterwards too, meaning stress levels are increased; being able to relax is pretty much an impossibility. It’s also adding to the ever growing amount of time we spend in front of screens, going against the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 as recommended by the HSE, which may be causing eye strain and eyesight issues.

Would it make us more productive?

The “obligation to connect” may not be applicable to everyone in France, however their heavily legislated 35 hour workweek for employees is a privilege taken up by the majority. And the result? The French are among the most productive in the world. They certainly aren’t alone with the thinking that time spent at work should be quality not quantity. The inhabitants of Gothenburg, Sweden are moving to a six hour day with the aim to achieve fewer sick days and an overall sense of feeling better, both in mind and body.  We’ll watch that space on that one, but with Sweden being one of the most efficient nations in the world, we believe they might just be on to something.

Less screen time, more “me” time

It’s a real bonus to be forever connected and have the ability to provide quick response times to colleagues and clients, but for our wellbeing and overall productivity, out of hours emails can quickly become a drain.

The next time you go to have a quick check through your inbox before bedtime, have an action plan in place. Think about how you feel after having an out of hours scan of your emails. Will replying to an email which will easily wait until morning make you feel any fresher? Chances are there will be nothing that can’t wait, so make a start to beat a habit. Go out, meet people, go for a walk and leave your phone at home; remind yourself of what time disconnected really feels like, and by the time 9am comes round again you might even notice a sense of enthusiasm when you open that inbox.

How would you feel if a 6pm email ban was imposed?

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