Should you have the right to disconnect from work? | The Tylt
In the world of Slack and WhatsApp, communicating with work never stops. Notifications relating to the next day's work can stretch into the evening and over the weekend. Connectivity has reached such heights that some are pushing for the "right to disconnect" from work. But others feel having constant communication with their coworkers is no big deal. If it helps get the work done, then so be it. Should everyone have the "right to disconnect"?
Should you have the right to disconnect from work?
For some people, the pressure of being expected to work all hours of the day can even take a physical toll. NBC News' Ben Kesslen spoke with Yulia Laricheva on the topic after Laricheva witnessed a coworker have a heart attack while at work. Reflecting on the toxic, high-stress environment of her workplace, Laricheva commented:
“It was making me sick. I was having heart palpitations, I was stressed, I couldn't disconnect,” she said. “I’m very committed to my job. But there has to come a time when you say pencils down, when you go home and rest.”
As a result, some countries have introduced the "right to disconnect," meaning employees have the express right to not engage in work-related communications during non-work hours. Countries like France and Italy have laws like these, and Laricheva is pushing for something similar in New York City. Kesslen reports:
The proposed bill would make it illegal for private employers in New York City with 10 or more employees to require their workers to check and respond to electronic communications during non-work hours.
Although many see the "right to disconnect" as logical, some are withholding support from signing it into law. Kesslen continues his reporting by speaking with Case Adams, the director of city legislative affairs at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. According to Adams:
“The DCA has serious concerns about our ability to effectively enforce a law that requires the agency to closely regulate the development and implementation of workplace communication policies by thousands of employers across hundreds of industries” Adams said.
If there is no way to realistically enforce the right to disconnect, perhaps it is not the best solution. Furthermore, as the nature of work evolves, it's likely the 9-5 formula will change with it. If expectations for workers continue to shift towards output, rather than hours worked, the right to disconnect becomes even more difficult to define.