The Work Email Problem That Isn’t a Problem

gotmailDo you check your work email outside of work? Gallup says that you probably do. Maybe you’re excited to tell your colleague about a new Excel trick you learned. Perhaps you want to remove an item from your plate. (Listen up: Your plate will always be just as full no matter what you do.) Or maybe your boss or company has a policy—probably unstated—that you reply to messages while on the toilet, in the shower, and during your sleep.

It’s especially because of the last reason that France recently enacted a new law to “ensure respect for rest periods” and maintain “balance between work and family and personal life,” according to the French Ministry of Labor. The “right to disconnect” provision states that companies with more than 50 employees must create a system to prevent work emails from intruding on employees’ lives during nights, weekends, and vacations.

Fact vs Problem

Good intentions, for sure, but you know about the road to hell—it’s paved by governments and HR departments. It seems that French lawmakers are acting like misguided HR practitioners by trying to engineer the workplace through well-meaning but meaningless rules.

Too often, government and corporate leaders rush to pass new directives to solve what they see perceive—or misperceive—as problems. In this case, people are checking work emails at various times. That’s a fact, but is it a problem? Consider these Gallup findings:

  • Seventy percent of Americans say that using a computer, tablet, or smartphone to work remotely outside of business hours has been a positive development.
  • What’s more, 1/3 say that they check their work emails frequently.
  • What’s even more, 17 percent of those people are likelier to report better overall lives compared to those who never check email outside of work.
  • Still, many of them also say they have more stress.

So what does all this mean? Continue reading “The Work Email Problem That Isn’t a Problem”