Balancing act: French ban on after-hours email raises work-life questions
Some jobs do seem to require constant communication in today's business world. I hope the people who hold those occupations went into them with their eyes open to that reality and can still find a way to create balanced lives.
For people who don't have those kinds of jobs, a ban on after-hours email might be a good and helpful thing. If workers knew they weren't going to miss anything if they ignored their smartphones after work, they might be more willing to leave them at home — or at least look at them less frequently — while spending time with their families or building balance in other ways.
However, I think the chances of similar government regulations gaining approval in America are somewhere between slim and none. And frankly, I'm OK with that. While I'm a true believer in work-life balance, I don't think it's something that should be mandated by the government at such a micro level.
I do think businesses should take a close look at their corporate cultures and decide whether a ban on after-hours email — maybe even a limited ban for certain classes of employees — would work for them.
In order for such a plan to work, the corporate culture change would have to start at the top. As long as executives and managers are sending after-hours email, lower-ranking employees are going to feel like they have to reply.
I'm not sure many U.S. companies have the will to make that kind of change. Even though I'm a work-life balance advocate, I would have a hard time at first adjusting to such a ban.
But I also believe that, if I did adjust, I might realize significant improvement in my work-life balance — and my life in general.
I'm interested to hear what you think about this issue. What is your reaction to the French regulations regarding after-hours email? Do you think similar government action should be considered in America? Or would you support private companies that tried to implement such a ban?
Send me an email or leave a comment online with your ideas, and I'll share some of them when I revisit this issue in a future column.