Clive Thompson: End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email!

Dear Commons Community,

Clive Thompson, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired, has an op-ed in today’s New York Times entitled, “End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email”. Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, he alerts us to the way email has taken over our lives especially for many white-collar workers. Here is an excerpt:

“White-collar cubicle dwellers complain about email for good reason. They spend 28 percent of their workweek slogging through the stuff, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. They check their messages 74 times a day, on average, according to Gloria Mark, an authority on workplace behavior and a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

And lots of that checking happens at home. Jennifer Deal, a senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership, surveyed smartphone-using white-collar workers and found that most were umbilically tied to email a stunning 13.5 hours a day, well into the evening. Workers don’t even take a break during dinner — where, other research shows, fully 38 percent check work email “routinely,” peeking at the phone under the table. Half check it in bed in the morning. What agonizes workers is the expectation that they’ll reply instantly to a colleague or boss, no matter how ungodly the hour. Hence the endless, neurotic checking, and the dread of getting in trouble for ignoring something.”

He comments:

“Limiting workplace email seems radical, but it’s a trend in Germany, where Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends. If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States? Absolutely. It not only could, but it should.”

Agreed!   Break the chains and enjoy the Labor Day Weekend!



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