Is the right to disconnect a miracle solution?

Who hasn’t heard of the right to disconnect? After telecommuting, flexible hours, meetings in hybrid mode, work-life balance and well-being at work, the right to disconnect continues to be among the hot topics in companies.

The new work organization offers more flexibility than ever. But who says flexibility, says connectivity. Indeed, the freedom to choose your working hours also comes with the possibility of working at atypical hours – evenings and weekends. As the lines between work and personal life are increasingly blurred, technology has become ubiquitous, so much so that we find it difficult to take time to disconnect.

Some propose, to regulate this way of working, the adoption of policies or laws on the right to disconnect. Although the right to disconnect is one of the measures that can promote employee well-being, it is not a magic bullet.

What if we took the time to dissect what is at the origin of this issue? Let’s start by asking the question: where does this need for the right to disconnect come from? What motivates companies to adopt them? What problems are we trying to solve?

The question of the right to disconnect is of interest to managers all over the world. Some governments have passed laws requiring companies to adopt policies to regulate this right. This is the case in France which, in 2017, became the first country to legislate on the right to disconnect. Several European countries including Italy, Spain and Portugal have followed suit. In Canada, Ontario took the lead with the entry into force, in June 2022, of a law requiring all companies with 25 or more employees to adopt a right to disconnect policy. .

In Quebec, the subject has already been discussed in the National Assembly and some players in the business community are interested in it. This is particularly the case of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal, which wrote a open letter very relevant to the subject. According to the president of the JCCM, Habi Gerba, a policy of the right to disconnect is a relevant measure to clarify the beacons between personal life and professional life and limit hyperconnectivity.

Indeed, the omnipresence of technology and teleworking have had a major impact on the way we communicate with our colleagues. One of the issues raised to justify the right to disconnect relates to managers’ expectations of their employees. If an e-mail is sent outside of regular hours, what are the respectable deadlines for obtaining a response? Are the members of the team equipped to distinguish between emergencies and files that can wait until the next day?

Excesses on the part of employers and employees, burnout, attraction and employer brand issues, are they not above all linked to the organizational culture and the way in which we build and maintain our relationships with our teams? Shouldn’t we rather look at this culture and seek to understand what is at the root of these problems?

If there is abuse, burnout, resignations, it is a clear signal that the organization is going through turbulent times and that the organizational culture may be dysfunctional. You have to be lucid as an organization and ask yourself these questions to identify and put in place actions to correct the situation. This cannot be done without an organizational culture that promotes a climate of trust and listening. And perhaps the underlying issues cannot be addressed by the right to disconnect alone.

For me, it’s a human thing. At the house of DELAN, for example, we consider that it is people who make up the company and give it its color. As a leader and manager, my first instinct would be to turn to those who, every day, evolve in my organization in order to identify with them their needs, the challenges they encounter. Are we listening to our employees? What have we put in place to facilitate communication?

Moreover, in a context of labor shortage, the right to disconnect can be seen as a distinctive element for positioning the employer brand, attracting and retaining talent. Well-being at work is an issue at the heart of the concerns of managers and employees alike, and the reflection surrounding it should involve all hierarchical levels.

The right to disconnect should not be seen as a separate concept, but rather as part of the organizational culture. If it can be an interesting solution and an asset for some companies, using it to solve business problems is not necessarily the right approach. Although technologies are essential in the new organization of work, human relations should remain at the top of the list of priorities. Let’s listen, be kind and give ourselves time to disconnect.

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Is the right to disconnect a miracle solution?

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