Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

April 11, 2014

European bans on emails unlikely in America

VALDOSTA — Several European countries are banning work emails to employees before and after normal working hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., in an effort to curb the perceived abuse of employees by corporations.

The French have always been very protective of their work force, with the work week set at 35 hours rather than 40, but other countries have similar rules aimed at shielding workers from being taken advantage of, including Germany and England.

It’s unlikely that the same ban would work in America, however, given our dependence on staying in touch 24/7, whether it’s for work or social purposes. An article in the BBC news magazine states that Americans make little delineation today between work and personal, routinely conducting personal business during work hours and doing work at home during personal time.

The flexibility to juggle work and personal business is one of the strengths of the American work ethic and corporate culture. While there are abuses both ways, with employees taking advantage of employers and vice versa, overall, it appears to balance out for most. There are employees who have little choice but to be connected at all times, but for many, it’s a choice they are willing to make to ensure the ability to do what they need to, when they need to.

Time will tell if the American way of staying in touch at all hours has a detrimental effect on productivity and on personal health and well being. It’s so ingrained into our social fabric today that the habit would be difficult at best to break.

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