Alex Agius Saliba, a Maltese lawmaker at the European Parliament, believes it is time to provide workers the right to disconnect.
Addressing this issue aims to create rules that say employees shouldn’t be expected to take work calls and emails outside of working hours.
“The political push is there because the visibility of overwork and this blurring between working time and private time has continued to be blurred during the pandemic because of the increase in the number of teleworkers, smart working, flexi-working so something needs to be done,” said Agius Saliba.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, workers have realized the struggle of always-on culture due to having their work life and home life becoming intertwined.
Even prior to the past year or so, companies and countries have attempted to address this problem. For instance, in 2012, carmaker Volkswagen barred staff from accessing emails in the evenings. In 2017, France implemented rules around when remote workers’ hours began and ended.
Achieving a true work-life balance can be done through numerous methods, whether that be adjusting a companies’ policies or introducing new federal laws. However this is achieved, the focus must be on building a workforce culture that values work-life balance.
“That cultural language of ‘it’s okay to switch off,’ that’s the one that’s harder to nail,” said Kaler Pilgrim, founder of recruitment agency Futureheads. “It’s about consistency and it’s about spotting when people are stressed, not taking those breaks and are trying to fit too much in their day.”