Tech leaders say they can disconnect after work, but employees disagree

With some US cities considering 'right to disconnect' policies, IT leaders and office workers may have a hard time doing so, according to Robert Half.

Top 5 ways to avoid IT burnout Tom Merritt offers IT workers five tips to avoid burning out on the job.

Many professionals struggle to achieve an adequate work/life balance, in a world where our phones and computers can keep us connected to our workplaces 24/7. In response, France in 2017 enacted a law dubbed the "right to disconnect," requiring companies of more than 50 employees to set up hours when workers are not supposed to respond to emails, normally during evenings and weekends. Some US cities, including New York City, have recently introduced similar legislation offering workers the ability to disconnect from calls, texts, and emails after work hours.

On Tuesday, Robert Half Technology released a survey of more than 2,800 IT decision makers and 2,800 office workers based in the US, to learn if these professionals could ignore their emails after hours. While 66% of technology leaders said they believe they could adhere to a ban on after-hours work emails, 41% of office workers said they didn't think their manager would actually follow this rule, the survey found. And only 46% of employees said they believed they could stay completely off of their work emails after hours.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

"Whether it's a self-inflicted attachment to work or feeling pressure to provide immediate responses to leaders, time away from our jobs is not only healthy, but necessary to do our best work," Ryan Sutton, district president for Robert Half Technology, said in a press release. "With or without legislation, managers should be respectful of their employees' personal time, as well as their own, to avoid burnout."

While no federal right to disconnect law exists in the US, some companies have taken similar steps to encourage employees to put their phones down while out of the office. However, only 20% of IT leaders tell their employees not to check emails after work hours, according to a 2018 TechRepublic CIO Jury poll.

Managers in large organizations of more than 1,000 employees said they were the least likely to be able to disconnect after hours, compared to those from smaller companies, according to the survey.

The survey also examined results across different metro areas. IT leaders in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Diego said they were least confident in their ability to follow an after-work email ban, while those in Charlotte, LA, and Miami said they were most likely to adhere to such a ban.

For tips on how to avoid IT burnout, check out this TechRepublic story.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • 66% of technology leaders said they believe they could adhere to a ban on after-hours work emails. — Robert Half Technology, 2019
  • 46% of employees said they believed they could stay completely off of their work emails after hours. — Robert Half Technology, 2019

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Image: iStockphoto/fizkes

By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.