17-Jan-2017

The Right to Disconnect


Legislation has recently been passed in France allowing employees the ‘right to disconnect’. The new legislation aims to tackle the ever-growing 24/7 work culture that blurs the lines between home and work life. It is hoped the new law will lead to decreased levels of stress and greater job satisfaction.

Companies with over 50 employees must now define their working hours, meaning employees will not be expected to check and respond to emails that fall outside of these specified times. The French newspaper, Libération, states that “employees are often judged on their commitment to their companies and their availability.” Not only will the new legislation prevent this kind of judgement, but employees will no longer be expected to work unpaid overtime, allowing for a fairer pay scheme.

Celebrating connected culture

It is also important to consider the positives of always being connected to work through your digital device. For many, checking emails or taking phone calls from outside of the office can offer a great deal of flexibility needed to suit their home life. For example, some employees may take a few hours off in the afternoon to do the school run and catch up on their work in the evening. With all sorts of commitments on our time, being able to work outside of standard working hours is desirable for many employees. Companies will now need to consider how they remain flexible whilst still setting boundaries between home and work life.

Just like checking emails, taking calls can eat up your personal time. However, ignoring these calls completely can be detrimental to your business image as well as lead to lost custom. The importance of appearing always available will not suddenly disappear with this new legislation - customers want to know that they are being listened to, whatever time of day. A virtual assistant can help maintain that image whilst you disconnect from work. Services like telephone answering ensure none of your business calls go unanswered, whilst allowing you to deal with them at a more convenient time during your paid working hours.

By introducing methods to destress their employees, such as blocking emails to their phones after work hours; big companies like Volkswagen are already ensuring home and work life are separated. With companies in France now having to introduce more stringent measures by law, it might be time for the rest of the world to take note. Studies have proven that switching off from work is significant to health and stress levels; in turn making employees more relaxed and effective.

Whilst the thought of disconnecting completely might cause some people to panic, 60% of French people were eager to clarify their working rights on the matter. However, just because we can disconnect - doesn't always mean that our business should too. Outsourcing certain functions such as telephone answering, takes the stress away from missing new business whilst remaining ‘switched off’. With many businesses working on a global scale, companies need to remain connected, even when their employees are taking a well-earned break.