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Stay Off E-mail After Work, Say Employers

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Work-life balance was officially obliterated for me in November of 2010. In that fateful month, I got a smartphone. I had resisted pitching my dumbphone knowing what would happen--I'd be on call 24/7, I'd play with it constantly and the war of attrition between my work-life and my home-life would slowly turn in favor of work.

Luckily, more and more employers are trying to restore the balance. Company's around the country are instituting e-mail rules instructing employees to stay off after close of business and, if they can't stay away, to read and not reply.

Citing a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, Cecilia King recently wrote in The Washington Post that, "In recent years, one in four companies have created similar rules on e-mail, both formal and informal...Firms trying out these policies include Volkswagen, some divisions of PricewaterhouseCoopers and shipping company PBD Worldwide."

In addition to the increase in easy access to e-mail, the article pins some of the blame for the blurring of work and home on the Great Recession.

More often, employees work evenings and weekends beyond their normal hours and do not record that time with their employers, labor advocacy groups say. And that’s made work bleed into just about every vacant space of time — from checking BlackBerrysand iPhones at school drop-offs, on the way home from happy hour and just after the alarm clock rings, they say.

“Problems with work-life balance have become much worse, especially as the economy has taken a downturn,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, the legal co­director of the National Employment Law Project. “Fewer workers doing jobs more used to do and are getting squeezed to do more work.”

In official government terms, all that extra work has contributed to what’s known as the productivity index, which rose 3.1 percent in 2010, 2.6 percent in 2011 and is set to increase again this year. Yet the number of hours recorded by employees is fairly flat during those years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

You can read the entire article here.

Would you appreciate rules on e-mail hours? What do you do to maintain the balance between your work and home life? 

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(Image via Lucky Business/

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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