Talk about an eye-catching article headline … this one definitely got my attention:
“Germany Examines Ban on Employees Checking Work Emails at Home!”
Can you imagine? Some German companies are actually and voluntarily forging a path to what they believe will
result in greater productivity and a happier employee and primarily, because they actually leave their work at the
office and use their ‘away’ time to focus on other aspects of their lives.
Consider what Volkswagen has done as a German based company. They have capped after-work email for some employees who have been issued company-owned smartphones. For workers under wage agreements, the company’s email server is programmed to stop delivering messages between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following morning. Weekends are also off-limits. A company spokesperson told NBC News that “Supervisors and employees regard the regulation as a signal to respect recreation times and to interrupt after-work hours only in emergencies.”
What the issue of work-related emails also illustrates is the broader problem … that of a strong increase of time pressure, requirements and high performance standards,” and more and more people take work home.”
Doesn’t this sound like what you know in terms of the attitude that permeates the company you work for or lead in the U.S.A.? What’s that you say? “No?” Well I don’t see it either in the work we do in organizations as coaches. Rather I hear about the work environment that seems to expect something akin to 24/7 in terms of being available to respond to various communications … be them from ‘the boss’, a co-worker, customer or supplier. That’s why the smart phones seem to be physically attached to our bodies. We take them to restaurants in the evenings and on the weekends. We reluctantly turn them off in movies … just because ‘they’ tell us we have to. And there they are hanging from our hips, in our pants pocket or purse when we’re doing something with our friends or family simply because we see ourselves and our job responsibilities as requiring us to be ‘on call’ at all times.
Here’s what I’m curious about and suggest that we all ask ourselves these questions:
- Is it the company’s expectation that we be available for business related emails and phone calls beyond the normal workday or…
- Might it be that we presume that we need to do this if we really want to get ahead?
- Is doing this a form of self-validation that helps us feel important and needed because we are busy and have so much to do?
- And … whether it’s a self-imposed expectation or that of the company, at what price do we follow this routine?
- What is the potential cost of failing to regenerate our own batteries with some down time?
- What would be the advantages of looking at down time from the job as a way to energize ourselves when on the job?
- What is the impact on our families … partner and or children … when we find ourselves squeezing them into our routine without consciously making them our ‘front-burner’ focus?
Maybe the organization for whom you work is very clear in expecting you to always leave room in your life for business related needs and demands. On the other hand and to the extent that you presume that this is what it takes to move forward and upward, it might well be worthy of evaluating. My guess is that often times this is a demand that we place on ourselves. The above referenced article contains this quote. “Good and healthy work that can be maintained for a long time is a competitive advantage” This sounds like the makings of a winner all the way around. Can you just imagine?