VW Will Block BlackBerry Email When People Are Off Work. Isn't That When It's Most Useful?

from the hmm dept

This is a bit odd. It appears that, as part of an agreement with its workers in Germany, Volkswagen has agreed to turn off BlackBerry messages to workers while they're away from work. Basically emails will stop going to BlackBerries a half hour after they leave work and won't come back until a half hour before they come back in.

Of course, it seems like if they don't want people to access emails while away from work there's a simpler solution: don't have workers use BlackBerries. Just saying.

The idea here is to keep employees from "feeling chained" and allowing them to enjoy the life part of the work/life balance. And, as we've discussed in the past, the blurring of the work/life balance is definitely an issue that some people need to deal with. But I have difficulty seeing how this helps in any way. In my experience, being able to access emails while not at my desk and in off-hours actually helps keep the work/life balance, since stuff doesn't pile up at work.

Years back, in college, I actually spent a lot of time studying how labor relations worked in Germany, and unions there tend to have a lot more say in how companies operate, to the point of being on councils with management making these kinds of decisions (it's a lot more partnership oriented than the US adversarial model). In many ways that's a good thing. Having management and employees working together to take on challenges, rather than just being at each other's throats, definitely has its advantages, but it can also create some wacky outcomes... like this.

Filed Under: blackberries, email, germany, work life balance
Companies: volkswagen

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2011 @ 11:03am

    This move may be motivated by the expectations employers have, some expect people to be available to them any time and that can have detrimental effects for employees that don't live up to those expectations.

    I worked under such conditions is no fun at all.

    It is one thing to do it voluntarily is another when there are expectations, and to be honest most employers will expect you to be there when they call.

    This reminded me of a comment Mike did a while back, when he told of a experience of his with someone that was looking for a job and he though "Gee, if the guy doesn't bother or don't have the imagination to set an appropriate time for meeting why should I help him?"

    From my point of view Mike at that moment was doing the exact same thing the other person was doing and that is not being considerate of others, not on purpose but a natural egoistical tendency that we all have, added with our own inability to imagine every scenario possible for why things happen, the guy was unemployed he had all the time in the world, he wasn't living under pressure he probably didn't have the experience necessary for knowing he needed to consider that others may not be as relaxed with their time as he is and so forth and he decided right there and then he wasn't going to put much effort to help that guy.

    This is the why hard limits may be a good idea for employees, it may have negative effects on the work, but it does protect people from those high expectations that we all have and would merciless dish out to others without thinking about it.

    ps: I'm not using a "Mike story" to attack him, just using one that anybody here have more chances of remembering and it is personal, it drives the point more effectively, it makes it real, not something theoretical.

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