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Give your employees a ‘right to disconnect’ in 2018

Give your employees a ‘right to disconnect’ in 2018

It’s at this time of year when people obsess over New Year’s resolutions. This year, how about adopting a business-wide resolution? Something that could improve the lives of all your people.

As a suggestion, why not take heed from the French and encourage employees to disconnect from technology once they’ve done their hours in the office (or at home) and enjoy some time away from a screen.

As of this time last year, French companies were required to guarantee their employees the right to ignore their smartphones outside of work hours. It meant that businesses of 50 or more employees must negotiate a set of rights with their staff about when they have to work outside of contracted hours.

The measure was brought in to tackle the “always-on” work culture that has led to an expectation that employees must pick up emails and messages all day, every day. The French Ministry of Labour warned that workers’ health would suffer from “info-obesity” in the shape of stress, burnout and sleeplessness.

We’ve touched on the double-edged sword that is technology before, noting how it “gives us the freedom to work from anywhere, [but] it makes it harder to switch off.” Helping businesses to find ways to protect their employees’ leisure time is something we’re very passionate about.

It’s not just people’s health that suffers from being always-on; so too does their output. A 2014 Stanford study found that productivity starts to plateau once they hit the 50-hour mark in a working week, and sharply declines when they reach 60+ hours. This tallied with a separate study from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business Professor Erin Reid, who found that managers couldn’t tell the difference between employees who worked 80 hours a week and employees who only pretended to.

On the flipside, a group of neurologists from the research organisation Kovert Designs decided to study the effect of a complete digital detox on 35 CEOs, entrepreneurs and other influencers. After just three days in the Moroccan desert, they found that the participants’ posture improved, their eye-contact with others in the group increased, they noted improved memory, and they slept better.

So, if you want more alert, better focussed and clearer thinkers to make up your organisation, consider implementing your very own ‘right to disconnect’ policy in 2018.

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