Should you check emails outside working hours?

French employees have been given the right to ignore emails outside office hours – but what if your office hours are all over the place?


So France has done the decent thing and passed a new law that forces companies with more than 50 workers to give staff the right to disconnect from their emails outside office hours, in an attempt to reduce stress. It all sounds good – but is it really necessary, and what are normal office hours anyway?

Who works 9-5?

I don’t think anyone would disagree that logging off, and working smarter not longer is a good idea. But how many of us work a traditional 9-5 day in 2017? Many of us work shifts, or work from home. Some of us have long commutes or spend evenings at networking events. And with more and more time spent online in our free time, doesn’t life become one big blur?

This is particularly true for parents, or anyone with multiple responsibilities. Many of us feel empowered that we can check emails in the middle of the night when the baby is awake, or that we can catch up with a backlog when we’re on a long car journey. The upside is that we may not actually be checking our emails between 9 and 5 when we are looking after children, or at the gym or doing anything that doesn’t involve sitting in the same chair in the same office every day.

A lifeline for bloggers

And what about bloggers or freelancers, any of us with our own businesses who rely on checking emails out of “work hours” – for some of us, being able to choose our hours and fit work in whenever you want to is a huge release and relieves stress rather than creates it. I know people who religiously turn off email during the holidays to get a proper break, which makes sense. For me, I like the choice. And now that I am freelance – all emails come in my work hours which are whenever I decide to log in and check them, or sit down at my desk for an hour or two.

Many small business owners and bloggers rely on the ability to check emails on the school run, or in the middle of the night. There is no work and life, it’s all just life. You can schedule your days in any way you want if you are freelance, for me, being able to check emails at 7am is very useful. But then again I love not having to check them between 3 and 5 when it’s pick up and tea time.

So maybe the French are just doing what us freelancers and flexible workers have been doing for years – taking a sane approach and giving workers the choice of whether to log in or not, rather than feeling obligated to be on call all the time – none of us want that – and those of us with children know exactly how that feels!

What do you think? Do you check emails outside working hours – do you have your smartphone with you all the time? Or do you work in an office and log off and go home at 5?



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