Switch off!? What’s that again?

Lilian Güntsche 12. October 2015

A representative survey of the Society for Consumer Electronics (GFU) and a corresponding contribution in the German Stern publication result read 42% percent of German employees emails in after-work hours. 28% not only read, but also edit professional emails actively in their leisure time

It seems to have become difficult for the company to really draw the distinction between professional and private life. In the moment we start being friends with our colleagues and boss on Facebook, they get this an into our personal lives and vice versa. The profession has become part of private life. But is it the other way around too? Probably yes, because the company phone is also often used for private interests or logged into the personal Facebook account to check updates. Tablets, smartphones and Co. are seen by approximately one-third of the Germans (in the study) as positive and live emphasizing. Just as many also see risks, because they realize that it is increasingly difficult to disconnect. This results in a new issue for the business world.

Is it part of the company responsibility today to ensure that employees turn off sometime and call it a day?

Or, can companies evade this responsibility? Are there new regulations needed in communication? How should executives exemplify the behaviour?

In a recent conversation with a corporate representative & Entrepreneur and one HR Lady, I recently stimulated an interesting discussion this. Here many principles emerged and very different opinions and points of view have come forward. This starts with the question of the degree of freedom that will be given to employees. Even at country level this very conversation differs entirely. According to the International survey with 6000 participants, Germany ranked among the top to middle field in checking emails after work. Leaders are Switzerland with 58%, the Italians with 56%, Austrians with 54% and 45% of the Spanish. According to the survey, it seems to be quieter than in Germany in evening hours in England (37%) and France (36%) . Here, at least largely, people seem to switch in evening hours.

Interestingly, many of the problem seem aware that the distinction between closing time and working time is greatly softened, therefore the studies and figures here now attract attention – but companies really taking action from there are still rare. Initial steps are gladly taken, but it’s a slow process.

Measures, such as the deliberate shutdown of company mobile phones from 6pm on, the abolition or adjustment of performance indicator programs (e.g. as at the consulting firm Accenture) or the cultivation of mindfulness such as the Google Search Inside Yourself program which I have visited personally, or SAP, that now even have an employee who is entitled “Head of mindfulness ” and spread the idea of mindfulness in everyday business in management levels.

Some companies rely more and more on sports activities that are offered to their employees and more often today we hear from so-called ” Business Runs ” that are organized, such as also the leading German hotel portal HRS organizes every year. Nevertheless, these are indeed good impulses, but probably no strategic solutions just yet. Here I see much potential for development. It will stay exciting…

Already in my article in the mobile zeitgeist in 2013, I talked about “Off-time” and the fact that it is important to cultivate a healthy balance. Please read here.

And now..please call it a day!




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