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WHEN I HEARD that some companies in France were “banning” the sending and receiving of work-related emails before 9am and after 6pm, I thought, “Good for them. That will never happen in the USA.”
Try telling a New York City stockbroker to not answer a work email after 4:00pm, and see how they react. Here are five reasons why those working for US companies will likely never see restricted access to work-related communication, even after they’ve “clocked out”:
1. We are too concerned with seeming “valuable” to our companies. We don’t work longer hours because we want to – we do it because we don’t want our companies to fire us. In most cases, the person who answers a work-related email within five minutes of it being sent out, is often viewed as someone more valuable than the employee who decided to answer it the next day. When a company has to let people go, its often the employees who have taken their entitled personal time, instead of dedicating that time to their jobs, who are sacked.
2. There are other ways to get in touch with employees, outside of the workplace. Every company knows how to get in touch with their employees once they’ve shut down their computer. I’ve even had people tweet work requests to me during off-hours at my old job.
3. Our obsession with being connected is too ingrained in us. We check our work emails incessantly because we are afraid of “missing out” on important opportunities. We do the same thing with our Facebook pages, our Twitter feeds, our text messages, etc. We want to be the first to hear about what’s going on in the world, and to respond to messages in real-time. Even if a work email isn’t that important, we answer it anyway, because our our cell phones notify us when a message lands in our inbox.
4. There is always someone working, somewhere. Not all jobs are constructed within the confines of 9am-5pm. As a Social Media Manager, I have to closely monitor the social channels of Matador in case of any issues that might arise. While I’m not glued to my computer or cell phone 24/7, I do check these sites frequently, and I have to be available if something goes wrong.
5. We are always trying to be better than everyone else. “Oh, you only work 35 hours week? Yeah, we work 40.” “It’s nice that you take a siesta every day, but maybe that’s why your business is in the shitter, and our productivity has increased by 400% over the last century.”
That’s American work mentality for you. It doesn’t mean we work harder than other countries, and it also doesn’t mean that we necessarily work better, either. But the idea that we are one-upping someone is very appealing to the competitive American workforce; knowing that we have access to our work emails when other people don’t, somehow means we can maintain our “Global Superpower” status (even if our citizens are stressed out because of it).