In October of 1971 by a guy named Ray Tomlinson was modifying a program that allowed messages to be sent between users of the same computer (one person to a computer was still science fiction). His program allowed messages to be sent between two computers. Viola! Email.
The eventual widespread use of the Internet has made e-mail an essential part of working life around the globe. In 2010, 294 billion e-mails were sent every day. On average we spend over an hour every day just managing our in-boxes (oh, and we check our e-mail 30-40 times per hour!)
But now we’re hearing of some organizations that are beginning to limit or (gasp!) ban workplace email.
Volkswagen recently announced its plans to turn off BlackBerry email for employees after work hours. Pressured by the employee’s trade union, Volkswagen has agreed to stop routing emails to company-supplied BlackBerrys half an hour after a worker’s shift ends, and to start again half an hour before the next workday begins. (Link to story here)
All other features of the phone will still work, which means the boss can still call, but can’t do a hit-and-run and drop some late-night or weekend project in your lap without having to listen to the disdain in your voice.
The union representing employees at Volkswagen argued that the company needed to better balance professional availability with protection of workers’ private lives.
But this pales in comparison with a story that surfaced back in November about the CEO of Europe’s largest IT company banning internal email altogether. CEO Thierry Breton based his decision to move to a more collaborative “Facebook-style” communication platform on an internal study that revealed only 15 percent of internal emails at the company were deemed “useful.” (Link to story here)
We’re big believers in work/life balance, and companies respecting the boundaries of their employee’s private lives, to be sure. But isn’t reading (or obsessively checking) one’s email after hours or on the weekend a little (a lot) self-inflicted suffering?
I suppose if your company expects you to reply to all after-hours emails, that’s a problem. But really, could you go all night, or all weekend without checking? Could you turn off you smart phone, and miss out?
Or do you secretly live for that moment when on Sunday night, your phone dings, and it’s your boss finally replying to the email you CC’d her on (showing you were in the office ‘til 5:10) on Friday. You roll your eyes and exhale in mock frustration… “Really? Don’t you have anything better to do” you’ll chide.
I’m just wondering, how many of you would welcome no longer receiving emails round the clock? How many of you would feel just fine if your phone never buzzed, not once after 8PM, or on Saturday afternoon? Be honest, and add your comments below.
Another infusion of knowledge…