Work Implications of French Communication Restrictions

Technological innovations have helped our world to advance in exciting new ways, from developing new medical tools to uncovering engineering approaches that will help to clean up our environment. There is so much that has been done, but not all of it has been for our benefit.

BlackBerry Dominates Mid-2000s

Nowadays, it is unusual for people to be without mobile internet access. And even when you go back to the mid-2000s, there was a wave of executives that were inseparable from their BlackBerry phones. These guys were punching away at their tiny keyboards as they fired off emails to colleagues and clients from all over the globe.

Businesses Embrace Mobile Technology

Moving on ten years and back to the present, pretty much all of us in the civilised world are able to send off emails and communicate with friends by using our smartphones. But while family and friends have embraced this level of technology, businesses are now depending on mobile technology more than ever.

Even small-to-medium enterprises are providing their employees with work phones to enhance their connectivity, simultaneously increasing their client exposure and subsequently growing their workload. Both clients and employers are now in a position to communicate with people like us whenever they feel like it.

Some of us are unfortunate enough to receive queries later at night or even during weekends. And it’s unthinkable to turn off our business mobile phones in case of an emergency. After all, nobody likes to arrive in work on Monday with a long list of belligerent emails. A little attention on the weekend can help to avoid such a scenario coming to pass.

The Guilt of Ignoring

But as much as you can try to stay on top of things, there will inevitably be holidays during the year where you can’t help but ignore your phone. Of course, it can be difficult to forget about the guilt of being without it. While some will be able to forget all about their work phone, others will inevitably struggle.

The French are seeking to quell all of these concerns by placing time restrictions on workplace communications. Back in spring 2014, staff unions and employment federations reached an agreement that communications should be restricted between 9am and 6pm.

Supporters of the French legislation have rightly pointed out that mobile technology has increased the span of the typical workweek. And that staff are expected to increase their hours without reaping extra rewards – only a larger workload.

Volkswagen Protect Workers

Incredibly, Volkswagen implemented an initiative in December 2011 whereby computer servers would stop sending emails half an hour after the end of the workday. Servers would only start up again half an hour before the start of the next workday.

UK Example

The legislation wouldn’t work entirely in the UK, with many types of staff member exempt. These people would include managers, emergency services staff, 24-hour workers, security personnel, and more. However, the case of exceptions in employment is not a new concept. The UK could easily implement similar legislation to the French. After all, the UK is also a member of the EU.

This article was written by Jason George, a telecoms expert working for ColumbusUK, a leading provider of communications and technology solutions.

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