Tribe’s Take on France’s “Right to Disconnect” from Email

Will corporate culture trump the law? Earlier this week, a new law went into effect in France giving employees the legal right to unplug. The law requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when employees are not required to answer email. As we get more and more attached to our smartphones, tablets, and even our watches, the lines of business hours and expected availability will only continue to get blurrier. Below is Tribe’s take on the new regulation. Similar to non-exempt laws in the US restricting off-the-clock work for some types of employees, this law could be a launching pad for tighter restrictions across the board.

We’re curious to see if the law will actually work. It will take some time to determine significant impacts, but acceptance of these behaviors will rely heavily on individual company culture and direct manager-to-employee relationships. Instituting change in an established culture can be a daunting task, but certainly doable with the right communication and executive buy-in. It will be interesting to see if legal action accelerates these changes in behaviors.

A less stressed workforce can result in lower healthcare costs. Email overload, whether received day or night, has been reported as a significant source of workplace stress. As NPR highlighted, a group of Stanford business professors have estimated that work-related stress added between $125 and $190 billion dollars per year to America’s healthcare costs, amounting to between five and eight percent of total costs. Overwork accounted for $48 billion of that.

Decreased burnout can equate to higher engagement. With hopes of being more than just a ban on after-hours emails, the law anticipates making a real impact on work-life balance. The ability to unplug and detach from work-related responsibility could positively impact morale, engagement and productivity. Time will tell if other countries will join the movement, or if France will remain a lone trailblazer.

Interested in improving your culture’s work-life balance? Tribe can help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *