New York, the city that never sleeps, is set to introduce a bill that would allow employees the right to disconnect from ‘electronic communications’ after work hours. Proposed on March 22 by Rafael Espinal, this bill would make it illegal to force employees to check and respond to email while they aren’t on the clock.
This is a huge step towards countering the 24/7 culture we’ve come to accept as normal and what I’ve called the ‘Great Spillover’—the line between work and life has become so blurred that we’re answering emails during dinner with loved ones and we’re watching cat videos during meetings.
European countries have already established similar laws. France, on the first day of January in 2017, passed a ‘right to disconnect’ law that required companies to establish hours where staff should not send or answer emails, in order to prevent burnout. Studies have shown that people who respond to work emails after 9 pm actually experience lower quality sleep.
At Getaway, our first core tenet of how we work is to build the counterbalance. Our mission is driven by the fact that the digital age has created a gross imbalance in our lives. We are here to be a counterbalance to others, and we believe in finding that balance in our own lives—which includes work. Our meetings always have an agenda and each of our teams have protected ‘production mornings’ where Slack, email and instant messages are banned.
Protecting our daily routines is good, but the spillover effect impacts our vacation time as well.
A whopping 61% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time, which is why we have a mandatory vacation policy at Getaway.
Daily rest at home after work is important, but real vacations to relieve the mind and inspire creativity is crucial as well.
As the importance of off-time becomes more apparent and needed, I hope to see more and more companies enforcing vacation rather than having a loose ‘unlimited vacation’ policy that can dangerously slip into a culture where no vacation is taken at all. This is where the importance of culture reigns: because even if the ‘right-to-disconnect’ bill passes in New York, it requires buy-in from employers and employees alike to commit to stop checking emails past bedtime and to get a little more sleep.