No Work Emails at Home

By Kurt Johnson

News straight out of Paris—"a controversial new bill could give workers the right to disconnect during off hours and vacations." It seems that President Francois Hollande's government thinks it is a good idea. Technology has dealt a tremendous blow to the French laissez-faire way of life and some want their lifestyle back while some employers like the fact their employees can work 24/7.

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Kurt Johnson
Kurt Johnson is the Bible School Director for the Voice of Prophecy.

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The legislation if passed would go into effect in 2018 and would require companies to encourage employees to turn off phones and other devices after they leave work. 

Business owner, Nicolas Potier, does not like the idea of disconnecting. "As a business owner, my life is to be connected to my company 24/7." Mr. Potier continues sharing that he is "vigilant" to his employee's quality of life and most are willing to take the time necessary to do the job. He concludes, "it is a state of mind." In essence, just accept the reality of a 24 hour connect with your job. 

However, not all employees agree. Technologia, a risk analyst firm, found that 3.2 million French workers were emotionally exhausted from work and at risk of chronic stress. 

Sociologist Yves Lasfargue, shares, that twenty years ago, before email and texting, we could not reach a work colleague after hours without making a phone call or physically knocking on their door. A person, many times waited for a letter to arrive or an office to open to make a telephone call in order to reach someone. If a person was on vacation and away on a trip, it was virtually impossible to reach them. Today, texting and emails easily evade the protocols of the past. 

France's powerful labor unions do not support the legislation and a few other related labor bills put forth by their country's president, but there is partial support for the disconnect concept. 

A French survey in November 2015 found that 75% of managers worked at home in the evening and over half worked on weekends and holidays. However, some of the companies have taken on the issue without needing legislation.  Volkswagen shuts down its servers after work, so employees cannot send work emails.  In addition, Areva, a French nuclear power company, drew up rules four years ago to let employees know, they were expected to disconnect.  

Interesting concept…required by your employer to disconnect from the job. From a Christian perspective, it is technically biblical (pun intended). Jesus told His wearied disciples to "come apart and rest awhile." He also said to "be instant in season and out of season." As a Christian, we are always on call to the salvation and compassionate needs of our fellowman, but yes, on a regular basis, we need to rest our minds and bodies. 

I personally believe that is "one" reason Jesus gave us the Sabbath. We can list numerous reasons for the Sabbath, which includes: worship of God, fellowship with each other, spending time with God to deepen our relationship with Him and I'm sure you can personally add to the list. But a key reason is rest. The fourth commandment even includes rest for one's employees, including the livestock that pulls the plow and labors for its owner. 

But, I say, "hats off to President Hollande for raising the issue." Maybe the legislation, as some suggest, is flawed, but the concept, at least, gets people thinking about balance in their lives. It does us all good to take a break, get some fresh air, hang out with our family, clear the cobwebs from our minds. When we go back to our work, something tells me we will do a better job and probably smile a bit more.

I must confess, the reason I found the news piece interesting is that I violate the proposed legislation consistently and so do many of my colleagues. Maybe I need to take a serious look at the topic of "rest" and "disconnect"—how about you?

News article: USA Today, March 29, 2016