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Why France’s new ‘right to disconnect’ law matters

Patrick Thibodeau | Jan. 9, 2017
Do after-hour email restrictions hurt or help productivity?

Employees get exhausted and disengaged from work, which may lead to family problems and an unhappy employee, he said.

But disconnecting is hard, especially for people who work in IT.

"Personally, I think it's a great policy that gives people their lives back," said Alan MacDougall, director of educational technology at the University of New Haven, of the French law. But MacDougall can't imagine that law working for him.

"I went 12 hours without checking my email once over the winter break and of course, the amount of email that piled up was a disincentive to repeat the behavior again," said MacDougall.

He doesn't see America's always-on work culture changing, particularly "when the person leading the country can never turn off," said MacDougall, referring to President-elect Donald Trump's tweeting at all hours.

Maura Thomas, a productivity consultant who has written about the negative impact of constant communications for the Harvard Business Review, believes many managers don't consider the impact they are having on employees with communications sent at all hours.

For workers who are checking emails at night and weekends, Thomas said, many "have resigned themselves to the belief that this is what the job requires."


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