Disconnection: a right and a duty…?

The massification of the use of smartphones is accompanied by increasing porosity between the professional and personal, public and private spheres. Does room connectivity condemn us to permanent connection?

It takes 64 seconds on average to gain attention after reading an email

There have been over 20 million smartphones sold. It is in 2015 that the milestone was reached for the first time in France. An increase of 7% compared to the previous year, according to the firm GfK. A growing trend is confirmed in the uses: 62% of French people own a smartphone while one out of three French people enjoys the triple screen – computer, smartphone and tablet.

More than ever, humans are increasingly connected today. However, the more and more prevalent place taken by the digital world in the daily life of everyone questions the notion of private space, the separation between the professional world and private sphere.


One person out of two checks their e-mail on their smartphone

According to the research firm Return Path, the smartphone has become the preferred way to “check” e-mails – for one person out of two – precisely because it is handy and available at all times. But this immediacy, this “continuity of connection” raises questions: “having the smartphone available all the time,” is convenient, but it can quickly turn into an injunction of “always being available,” implying an information overload and dispersion of attention. This can also lead to developing pathologies linked exclusively to the professional environment.

“Right to disconnection”

However, this redefinition of the personal and professional spheres established by the arrival of new digital tools should not be inevitably suffered but tamed and domesticated because its original purpose is not to penalise humans but to serve them.

A principle has been established in Germany for several years. Since 2011, the automobile manufacturer Volkswagen has prohibited its employees to send emails between 6.15pm and 7am by blocking the access to their professional Blackberries while the chemist Henkel forbade the sending of messages at the weekend and during the holidays at the end of the year.

In France too, the question of the right to disconnect was proposed and integrated into the Labour Code through the Labour Law.

Orange, for its part, in late September 2016, signed an “initial agreement on supporting digital transformation“.

Multiple individual solutions to remain free

But to be sustainable, digital freedom does not apply one-way: the task lies not only with the company but also with the individual. If has been found that if the latter manages to “separate” the professional and the private as much as possible (diversification of email addresses and phone numbers, limited availability), other simple practices are at his disposal since it takes 64 seconds on average to gain attention after reading an email and the French receive forty per day on average, why not disable notifications that unconsciously head to the reading of an email? Nobody is annoyed with him, let alone his colleagues who may also participate in work overload relief and thus gain efficiency and solidarity. So just enjoy it, at last. We do forget, but optimising working time, also optimises free time!

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