I kid you not!
BBC News published the headline, “Banning out-of-hours email ‘could harm employee wellbeing‘” on October 19, 2019. As the article explained, “University of Sussex researchers found while a ban could help some staff switch off, it could also stop people achieving work goals, causing stress.”
More than one reader flagged this for me, and suggested it was a good topic for one of my Weekend Polls. I’ve asked readers in previous years about the extent to which you dedicate personal time to your roles. This year, I’m back with those same questions and adding some new ones.
In France, meanwhile …
It’s been almost three years since French legislation referred to as the “right to disconnect” came into force on January 1, 2017. In France, organisations employing more than 50 people are required to have in place a “charter of good conduct”. In a country already known for – among many other qualities – 35-hour work weeks, this legislation requires such employers to identify and honour the hours during which employees are to neither send or respond to emails.
Wellbeing and frequency of checking email
Research conducted by the University of BC, barely 15 minutes from my own home, looked at the frequency with which people check email during their work hours. Findings (Kushlev, Dunn) published in February 2015 showed that study participants who were restricted to checking their email only three times during the work day were “found to be less stressed than those who could check their emails continuously”.
While the report authors noted that the frequency with which people checked their email didn’t directly impact other wellbeing outcomes, they observed that lower daily daily stress “predicts greater well-being”.
Then there’s the matter of the environment
It sometimes takes a while for different concepts to sink in. Recent calls for people to reduce email usage speak to individuals’ and organisations’ carbon footprints. Insights on the impact of our day to day habits are not new.
Articles calling for attention to email-related environmental impacts have been published before this decade. In fact, it was late 2016 or early 2017 that French engery regulators encouraged businesses to conserve energy by reducing email usage. It’s not merely our email usage we can consider; we rely on multiple technologies that also impact the environment.
More on sustainability to follow
While this Weekend Poll is focusing on email in the context of establishing boundaries in support of personal wellbeing, I’m in the process of assembling a Real Careers panel exploring the role assistants around the globe can take in positively impacting sustainability.
Real Careers alum Sofie Koark and I have been (ironically) e-discussing this important topic in recent months, and I’m in the process of reaching out to a limited number of other assistants in various countries to join this panel.
If you’re involved in workplace initiatives to be kinder to our planet and would like to be considered for this panel, please comment on this post or drop me an email at ExceptionalEAs@gmail.com. I won’t promise that all interested assistants will find a place on the panel; I do commit to trying to form a panel that’s representative of different locales, sectors, countries and views.
Focusing on emails
For this weekend, the focus is all about …
Setting boundaries: email and more
Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below.