François Hollande’s rigid employment laws in France have driven students and unionists alike to protest, fighting for the right to disconnect. Hundreds of thousands of protesters – university students, high-school pupils and trade unionists – engaged in demonstrations across France in a wide-reaching movement.
The right to disconnect essentially refers to the right to ignore emails from employers during evenings and weekends (outside of work hours) so that time spent with friends and family is not affected by work distractions.
First of all, this proposal recognizes the massive impact the extensive use of smartphones and tablets, Wi-Fi and high-speed mobile internet has had on our working lives. Because more often that not, we bring our work emails, documents and contacts everywhere with us on our smartphones, to some extent we are never truly “out of the office”. The proposal aims to counter this in legislation, not to leave it to corporate custom and practice.
Secondly, it acknowledges the considerable research which suggests that we need to psychologically detach from work regularly, or risk exhaustion – otherwise known as burnout – and the loss of our creativity.
What’s more, research into work-life balance several professors at the UK-based intensive research university Royal Holloway have conducted suggests that achieving the right balance has become yet another “life crisis”. What they found is that there needs to be respect for individuals’ chosen work-life boundaries at all levels within organizations.