Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits
In 1998, an ambulance driver in France failed to answer his employer’s phone calls outside of working hours. He was fired, raising questions about the obligation of workers to be available around the clock. Less than a decade later, France enacted the “Right to Disconnect” to protect workers from being penalized for ignoring after-hours work messages. The code did not define exactly how this right should be implemented, leaving employees and their employers to determine the best arrangements for their needs and line of work.
While disconnecting may seem relatively straightforward, technology has complicated the situation. The idea of postponing communication until work hours isn’t as simple as it once was with the implementation of remote work. Remote work has many benefits, but without the physical separation between work and nonwork spheres, properly disconnecting can be difficult. Variation in worker preferences, jobs with tight deadlines, or roles that cannot fully disconnect make implementing something like France’s “Right to Disconnect” quite tricky.
While the specifics differ among workplaces and employees, everyone deserves the ability to disconnect and rejuvenate. Continue reading for tips to create a proper work/life balance to avoid stress and burnout.
Tips for Employees
- Talk with your manager. Express feelings of stress and burnout and come prepared with suggestions and solutions.
- Manage expectations. Understand the realities of your job and what tasks are required of you. From there, make to-do lists and implement time-management strategies to get tasks done.
- Turn off notifications outside of work hours, if possible.
- Organize your calendar with out-of-office status or other categories to protect your time.
- Build trust. If your employer believes you will get things done, you are more likely to be granted greater flexibility.
- Create a one-minute, five-minute, and ten-minute decompression reference sheet. Write down activities you can do within each of these time frames to destress and refresh.
- If working remotely, implement a routine that provides the same release as a commute. Plan five minutes to separate work and home life at the end of the work day.
Tips for Employers
- Extend trust. Let your workers know you value and trust them. Providing flexibility could allow employees the variety they need to get work done.
- Be understanding and compassionate.
- Implement 25- or 50-minute meetings to give a small break and buffer time between meetings.
- Set the example. Avoid sending emails after hours as this may set the misconception that workers are expected to work all hours of the day. Consider scheduling emails or saving drafts to avoid this pressure.
- Meeting-free Monday. Try blocking out certain days or times for projects only.
- Consider implementing “No video days” — days no one is expected to turn on their camera for video meetings.