You have to be in France. You have to be a manager there, too, because ordinary workers can lump it: if your boss needs you to answer your emails all day and night, you’ll answer them or else. But if a French plan to protect stressed bosses works, it will logically help everyone. Follow. When your boss is not allowed to go on email in the evenings then he or she can’t be emailing you anything. Everybody wins.
In many jobs, work email doesn’t stop when the employee leaves the office. And now France has decided to act. It has introduced rules to protect about a million people working in the digital and consultancy sectors from work email outside office hours. Those are taken to be before 9am and after 6pm. The deal signed between employers federations and unions says that employees will have to switch off work phones and avoid looking at work email, while firms cannot pressure staff to check messages.
Michel de La Force, chairman of the General Confederation of Managers, has said that “digital working time” would have to be measured. Some emailing outside of office hours would be allowed but only in “exceptional circumstances”.
I’m more sympathetic to this idea that I might have been before. I used to live by the bleep of my incoming emails and now I’ve switched it all off. Almost all. Certain people’s emails make a bleep but the majority don’t. And I switched off push notifications too. Suddenly my battery life is longer and I am able to concentrate on more work because I just don’t get interrupted so often.
And I can tell you exactly where in Damascus I had this blinding revelation. Do read the BBC article because it is interesting but for useful ideas – specifically for useful ideas you can use right this moment – buy David Sparks’s book about Email from the iBooks Store.