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Volkswagen shuts off employee BlackBerry e-mails after work

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It's 9 at night and you get an e-mail from work. Is it just your boss getting a jump start on her to-do list? Or does she really expect a reply? Either way, you're thinking about work, aren't you?

German car maker Volkswagen has decided to make the issue moot: They're shutting down workers' e-mail function at night, according to news reports.

While there are whole web sites and books devoted to how to unplug in the evenings and on weekends (not to mention holidays) to reduce work stress and actually increase efficiency, Volkswagen's decision removes any gray areas.

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Employees won't need to set their own limits; they will only be able to receive emails from half an hour before the start of "flex-time" working hours until half an hour after they end.

This affects about 1,154 employees at Volkswagen's six plants in Germany who have have smartphone devices provided by the company, Reuters reports.

Representatives for the employees pushed for the change, to reduce the risk of burnout, "a psychological syndrome that some studies have said causes almost 10 million sick days a year in Germany," reports Reuters.

Other companies are changing their e-mail policies based more on their philosophies about what constitutes smart communication - or a waste of time. The European tech company Atos plans to phase out internal email over the next three years.

Apparently, the amount of e-mails going around the office forces managers to spend up to 25 hours a week reading and writing e-mails, reported the Financial Times.

"Email will still be used for external communications, but employees will be expected to use collaboration and social media tools instead of email to communicate with fellow co-workers," reports the Financial Times.

Could your workplace use an e-mail adjustment? Do you like being reachable at all hours, or would you appreciate more limits?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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