Has the global backlash against the 24/7 workday just begun? If so, sign me up. It appears that Volkswagen has agreed to an e-mail blackout for its German employees who are off-duty.
Reuters reports that Volkswagen management has reached an agreement with labor representatives, one that places strict limits on when the automaker's employees can receive work e-mail via their Blackberry phones.
Specifically, work e-mail messages are limited to a half-hour before the workday begins until a half-hour after it ends.
Congrats, Volkswagen proletariat. Your free time is now free. Fahrvergnügen? Ja.
Sadly, the new e-mail rules won't apply to Volkswagen's executive staff, but one must assume that they're compensated accordingly. And many of the company's workers, such as those responsible for keeping systems running around the clock, will be exempt from the after-hours e-mail ban as well.
Could a similar e-mail blackout happen in the U.S.? One study found that most Americans check their e-mail every 15 minutes or so. Of course, this doesn't mean everyone is answering the boss's e-mail around the clock, but many of us are.
So how can you regain your e-mail-free time? Well, short of an Occupy-style, anti-e-mail movement, there are several quick steps you can take. Here are five from PCWorldcontributor JR Rafael:
1) Give yourself an e-mail curfew and stick to it.
2) Schedule set e-mail times.
3) Set aside a "no e-mail" day."
4) Take a vacation … without a phone, laptop, tablet, or other electronic device.
5) There are no e-mail emergencies. If it's urgent, the sender will call, text, or find another way to reach you.