Are we ever actually off the clock? With a phone in our hands and a laptop at home, work has a way of following us, no matter the time or place. Some manage to unplug, easily separating work from play. Yet for others, work can become intertwined with all facets of life.
The labor agreement French employers’ federations and unions signed earlier this month called attention to the issue of work-life balance. The agreement will affect 250,000 employees and requires employers to make sure staff “disconnect” outside of working hours (though what time working hours end is up to employer discretion).
A French reader responding to an early NPR report offered her commentary on the deal, which was sensationalized in some initial media reports.
“The new agreement was proposed to control the amount of hours worked by « daily contract » employees. The use of new technologies extends the boundaries between work hours and free time. Those people have to have at least 11 hours a day of free time. Which means they can legally work up to 13 hours. Not more. Which is already good for a day of work don’t you think?”
Still, the deal highlights the difficulty of disconnecting – and a new, extended working cycle that can emerge as a result. A recent U.S. lawsuit claimed checking email after work hours should be considered overtime, a sentiment which has led some employers to proactively restrict employees’ email access after hours. A Swedish city council recently announced it is introducing a 30-hour work week on a trial basis to test the theory that after 6 hours, productivity wanes significantly.
It’s technology that has enabled workers to be connected around the clock. But technology can also ensure employees take adequate breaks from work so they can be productive when they’re there.
AirWatch’s management capabilities enable organizations to restrict access to company email based on parameters such as time and location. Geo-fence technology, as it’s called, allows IT administrators to set a virtual perimeter around a physical area, such as an office complex. When employees leave the geo-fence, IT can set management profiles that automatically restrict access to email and other resources.
Containerization technologies are also helping employees separate work from personal on mobile devices. AirWatch Workspace is a containerization technology that creates a managed space on an employee’s device where all company content can reside.
Organizations then have the ability to allow access to corporate data within the container for a specific time period or only in specific locations. Contract employees may only need access to an enterprises backend infrastructure for a few months; once the contract expires administrators can restrict access.
The technology is helpful for giving corporate access to short-term, hourly or contract employees, many of whom are among those affected by the French labor agreement.
The debate over when work ends will continue. But just as technology has enabled an always on mentality, more employers are turning to technology to ensure their workers also get adequate time off.
Employers are facing new challenges from unexpected angles, and sometimes the solution comes from an unexpected source.
French readers interested in learning more about the agreement can find more information here.
About the Author
Ian Evans is vice president and managing director for the EMEA region at AirWatch by VMware, the leading enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider. In this role, Evans is responsible for growing AirWatch’s business in the European, Middle Eastern and African regions. Evans brings more than 20 years of experience to AirWatch from previous positions in the software industry, as well as 10 years in direct and channel sales. A diversified senior executive