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The Two-Way
4:34 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Work, Life Balance: VW Agrees To Switch Off After-Hours Email

In an always-connected world, the line between work and life is often blurred. Now, Volkswagen has announced that it is shutting down after-hours email for German employees who are handed Blackberrys.

The BBC has details:

"Under the arrangement servers stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of employees' shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work.

"The staff can still use their devices to make calls and the rule does not apply to senior management.

"'We wanted to take a preventative approach to tackling the issue,' said Gunnar Killian, VW's works council spokesman. 'At Volkswagen flexitime is between 0730-1745, with our new arrangement workers can only receive emails between 0700 and 1815.'

The AFP reports that this is looking like a trend. Henkel, a European chemical company that makes detergent, issued an email "amnesty" between Christmas and New Year.

The AFP quotes CEO Kasper Rorsted as saying:

"'I take a last look at my Blackberry on Saturday morning. And then I put it aside for the rest of the weekend. I spend time with my children,' the chief executive said.

"'I don't have to read my emails simply because someone somewhere is bored and sending me them,' he continued. 'It shows a lack of respect to pester people like that.'"

In early December, a major French IT firm, which employs 80,000, took an even more dramatic step and banned email altogether. As CBS News reports, that came after the company studied the contents of email and found "only 10 percent of email processed each day is important" and that "it takes over a minute to get back to useful work after reading an unimportant message."

What do you think? Our question closes Dec. 31.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.