I found this article on Hackernews: Volkswagon has adopted a company policy which prevent employees from accessing their company emails on their mobile devices from half an hour after work until half an hour before work the next day. And by this, I’m sure they mean they won’t PUSH emails to company phones during this time. The motivation is that many people find themselves addicted to their phones, and there are obviously mental affects from being unable to separate yourself from your work environment: I think it’s safe to say that worry-free time from work is necesary for a healthy lifestyle. As an employee, however, I’d say it’s hard to tell your boss ‘hey man, I’m not going to acknowledge my company phone off hours, I need some ‘me’ time, you know?” Well, without getting fired at least. That’s why it’s cool to see it come directly from the employer, which I think is the only really way it would actually have an impact, due to the reaon stated above. Although I’m sure this is pushed by a union or some sort of representational body, the fact that Volkswagon is on-board is huge: they’re not only being a great example for other companies, but are also taking the first step in healing a lot of their employees. Not everyone who owns a company blackberry is ‘chained to it against their will’, there are a lot of people who need to be told ‘no, go take some time away.’ This is not a bad thing: there are people who are committed to their job. But really, it’s a good thing.
I also like how this fits into my vague, yet persistent view that work mentality in Europe is more mature and balanced than over here in Canada, and this step towards a healthier work relationship could only come from the Volkswagon in Germany: it’s hard to get any more European.
But I think that comes with a price: productivity and speed. At the cost of sanity and a ‘health balance’, it seems like we get a lot more done around here, and it’s hard to say crackberries didn’t help it get that way. Imagine a CEO, VP, or even just anyone who manages people in a tech company around here, going without their Blackberry out of the 9-5.
Upon trying to think of places where it would be inappropriate to restrict off-hour connectivity, I stumbled upon start-ups, and got stuck. If I’m working at a start-up tech company, say in Waterloo, NY, or the Valley, am I always available via blackberry? I mean, considering usually tight deadlines, life or death decisions/work done on a daily basis, and my probable involvement in every aspect of the company? Or do I take the (very little time) I have away from work as my sanctuary?