Should you disconnect from work when you are home? The French government thinks you should.
‘My precious’ – do you ever get that Gollum feeling? The character from Lord of the Rings called it his precious; no less an object than the One Ring; Gollum longed for its return – helplessly addicted and upon its loss, suffering from the severest of withdrawal symptoms imaginable.
But maybe we all have our own version of the ring: our smart-phone. We can’t put it down, but our addictions manifest themselves in different ways. It can be Facebook, Twitter, Pokemon Go, or it can be the way they link us to work.
It is not a new condition. They used to call the Blackberry the ‘Crackberry’. But is it good for us?
A new law has come into force in France that is designed to give workers the right to switch off from work – when away.
French organisations that employ more than 50 workers now have to enter into negotiations to possibly grant workers the rights to ignore smart-phones when they are not at work.
Smart-phones, it appears, are being blamed for burnout and sleeplessness – although no one is yet accusing them of sparking off a war in Middle Earth.
The spirit of the new rule is that companies have to negotiate an agreement with workers on the use of smart-phones and, in the event that they are unable to reach an agreement, at the very minimum, publish a charter on workers’ rights regarding their smart-phones. But the rule does seem to be a tad woolly. Companies that do not apply the rule will not be fined.
As ever, when you drill down it becomes tricky. It all began when French Labour Minister, Myriam El Khomri, commissioned a report which came up with the concept of info-obesity.’ So are our brains getting fat on information?
But for many people, smart phones are a godsend. They enable them to go into work better prepared.
Besides, might companies that allow workers to switch off be at a disadvantage compared to those that don’t?
Some large corporations, German companies Volkswagen and Daimler, for example, have a different take and have already introduced rules to enable workers to switch off – not because they had to by law, but because they felt such rules could actually lead to higher productivity.
And that is surely the point. It may be in the best interests of employers to insist that workers take time-off from their smart phones. Maybe the problem here is that some people reach the top through being workaholics, and may have little sympathy for those who are not.
Some of us flourish through being switched-on at all times, some of us don’t. It is hard to regulate for people’s differences.