In 2013, firms resolve to wean employees away from electronic devices

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 03, 2013 07:20 hrs

Resolutions to change behaviour are common around the start of the New Year, and some corporates around the world have reportedly resolved to wean their employees away from their electronic devices.

Atos, an international information technology company, plans to phase out all emails among employees by the end of 2013 and rely instead on personal communication.

And, according to the New York Times, starting in the new year, employees at Daimler, the German automaker, can have incoming email automatically deleted during holidays so they do not return to a flooded inbox.

An automatic message tells the sender which person is temporarily dealing with the employee's email.

No one is expected to be on call at all hours of the day and night, switching off and observing quiet periods after work is important, "even if you are on a business trip," said Sabrina Schrimpf, a Daimler spokeswoman, referring to the company's recently released report, Balanced! - Reconciling Employees' Work and Private Lives.

Disconnecting can be more challenging for business travellers who frequently work across time zones and put in long hours.

A study conducted last spring by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found that while mobile phones were valued as a way to stay productive, there were downsides to being available at all times.

The nationwide survey of 2254 adults found that 44 per cent of mobile phone owners had slept with their phone next to their bed and that 67 per cent had experienced "phantom rings," checking their phone even when it was not ringing or vibrating.

Still, the proportion of phone owners who said they "could live without it" has gone up, to 37 per cent from 29 per cent in 2006.

Sam Chapman, chief executive of Empower Public Relations in Chicago, said he used to feel phantom vibrations and frequently read and sent email on his BlackBerry in the middle of the night. He slept poorly, did not feel refreshed in the morning and considered himself addicted.

So Chapman adopted what he called a BlackBerry blackout policy. He and his staff of about 20 turn off their BlackBerrys from 6 pm to 6 am on weekdays and completely on weekends for all work-related use, with rare exceptions.

"When I'm well rested, I show up to work ready to go, hit it hard, and then stop and become a human being," he said.

He maintains that regimen while traveling, and said the policy had increased company productivity.

Experts say there is no firm data for how many companies have policies restricting the use of electronic devices outside the office. (ANI)

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