Get (Dis)Connected or Turn Off and Drop Out


Turn on

Tune in

Drop out

The iconic 60s phrase, coined by writer and psychologist, Timothy O’Leary. Since January 1st in France, rather than turning on though, French workers have been given the right to turn off and drop out.

It’s all down to new French employment laws that came in to force on January 1st : now, when employees leave work, they are allowed to disconnect – turning off all their mobile gadgets, for a quiet evening or weekend.

We’ve all had it – you get home after a hard day at the grind and no sooner have you sat down, than a plethora of « urgent » texts and mails arrive « for your immediate attention ». There goes the quiet evening you had planned.

Evening ? Did I say evening ? There are those messages that arrive at the dead of night or in the wee small hours. Colleagues sending mails at midnight or later.

« What do you want me to do ? I’m in bed. I’m not working now ! »

You might not be working, but your boss or colleague is, slaving away, at home, or perhaps (God forbid) still at the office. Sending out texts late into the night as if to say « look at me, I’m still working … aren’t I a model employee. »

Of course such people also pollute your weekend.

Sunday afternoon, and « ping » goes the computer to signal something in your mail box …

« Hi … do you think you could just check this report for our Monday morning meeting ? »

You want to scream a resounding NO !, but that person who is sollciting you on the sabbath adds “ it will only take a few minutes… ”  Like hell it will. It f***s up your weekend and causes stress.

Well, now you can say NO ! with the full backing of the law.

What goes for evenings and weekends also goes for holidays. No more annoying communiqués from work to spoil your hard earned tanning time.

Let’s be clear though, the new law does not make it illegal for your boss or your colleagues to send « out-of-work » mails, but it enshrines the right of employees to ignore them out of working hours.

I suppose this brings the wider question of – Who are all these people working after working hours that send out-of-work mails and texts ?

They fall in to three distinct categories

Those deliberate late workers who want to show the boss and felow colleagues just how hard they are working. All those middle ranking managers who like to think they are indispensable or endeavour to make themselves such – Like we say in French – the local cemetery is full of people who thought they were indispensable.

The coffee drinkers and socialisers who actually don’t work during work, but burn the midnight oil to do exactly what they should have done during the day (or like the first category – show everyone that they are working so hard that they must stay late)

The sinkers and drowners – Those who can simply not manage their workload and spend every hour of the day working just to keep their haed above water.

I daresay, that despite this new law, the out-of-wok mail still has a long future as a weapon in the workplace. It’s not because we can now all turn off, that we still won’t burn out.