Monday to Friday. 9 to 5. That’s the dream. Eight work hours. Although, it’s not always 9 to 5. Not really.

You could just be sitting down after dinner and you get an email.

Suddenly you’re on your laptop for an hour or two trying to sort it out before you get to work the next day.

You shut the computer down and go to bed around 1 a.m., partially wishing you were back to shift work with no thought of a company email.

But it may not be like that for long

From the 1st of January this year, a new law came into effect in France. Any company with 50 employees or more have to negotiate terms with staff for emails out of work hours – including the right to ignore their company phones on an evening.

The French government seems to understand that employers are demanding more from their workers and feels there is a need to negotiate around this intrusion to private life.

I can see the appeal of being able to ignore your work phone on an evening if you want to, but imagine the atmosphere in the office the next day.

It’s a nice idea, but some will obviously opt out of this scheme.

With the scheme in place, it could allow companies to keep a better record of who is active on their phones out of hours.

This alone is intriguing when it comes to flexible working. For instance, if a single parent has clearly been working for two hours in an evening, they could leave early the following day to pick their children up from school.

By keeping a record of those that still use their phones out of work hours, it could help companies update their approach to flexible working.

At the time of writing, there is a strike on the London Underground, causing delays across the city. I’m sure the businessmen and women in those cars would prefer to spend the extra time working, knowing that they could claim the hours back under flexible hours.

Stress and work have been linked for a long time, but did you know that when working long, unsociable hours, 27% feel depressed, 34% feel anxious and a staggering 58% feel irritable? The effect can’t be denied.

Now that we can effectively be at work with a tap of a phone screen, it is vital that we focus on our work/life balance.

The fact is some companies outside of France have already seen how this can benefit their staff and productivity in future. With VW looking into a similar policy, we could see many more major companies taking on the same attitude.

Hopefully, this will boost morale and make it easier for salaried workers.

After all, a person’s free time really should be free, don’t you think?

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