Setting boundaries for emails after office hours

Following a proposal to promote women to 30 percent of boardroom positions in 2016, the German government has taken aim at revising another aspect of office culture. Legislators in the European nation have presented a new standard that would forbid employers from sending emails after work hours. 

Coined an "anti-stress regulation," the proposal is designed to reduce the burden on employees whose work-life balance encroaches on their time at home. With the advent of mobile technology and cloud-based office systems, unplugging from the professional sphere has become harder and harder for workers to do. According to NPR, the policy has already been adopted by companies like Volkswagen and BMW, and lawmakers are divided over whether to support or oppose the mandate. Chancellor Angela Merkel characterized the issue as a distraction from more pressing topics, like the economy and minimizing government bureaucracy. 

Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that France had adopted a similar limit on after work and out-of-office emails, as part of labor protection legislation. Researchers agree that the limits have merit. 

"Research has shown that employees who unwind from work stress during off-work times are better at showing proactive behaviors to solve problems and are more engaged in their work," YoungAh Park, assistant professor of psychology at Kansas State University, told EHS Today. "In the long term, ensuring employee recovery from job stress by detaching themselves from work is beneficial for sustaining employees' well-being and job performance capabilities."

While a similar law may never be deemed constitutional in the United States, the rationale behind it might make modern employers take notice. Allowing employees to lead full, unobstructed personal lives without the interference of office matters can lead to better health and overall job satisfaction.