Always connected. Always available. Always responding. That seems to be the way of business these days.
When I took the break to Bermuda a few weeks back, I did something unusual. I left my Blackberry behind. And I left my notebook behind. I was, for the most part, unplugged. I did continue to blog and I also checked my gmail account. But everything else was left behind.
What was troubling to me was that this had become an unusual act. Leaving work behind while on vacation seemed inappropriate.
Fast Company carried a piece on instant-communications technology. They outlined the following articles for an E-tool Bill of Rights:
- Article 1: There shall be no assumption of unlimited e-access simply because the tools allow it. Excessive messaging shall be considered electronic littering.
- Article 2: The right of the people to be secure from unwarranted electronic work intrusions at home shall not be violated. Nights and weekends shall be considered unplugged zones.
- Article 3: The people shall have the right to switch off email notification and other noisemakers and instead check messages at designated times to prevent attention deficit.
- Article 4: There shall be no requirement of immediate response to messaging, unless urgency is determined.
- Article 5: The time of the people shall be respected. Therefore, book-length thread emails, short acknowledgment notes (“Got it,” etc.), and lame chain jokes shall not be allowed.
- Article 6: Companies shall establish written policies to manage e-messaging.
- Article 7: The people are not on vacation if they are still in contact with the office. There shall be no requirement while on holiday to carry pagers, or check email or voice mail.
- Article 8: Any email longer than two paragraphs shall not be sent. Instead, time shall be saved by telephone contact.
- Article 9: BlackBerry users shall be allowed to turn off incessant mail sound effects and shut down their devices at the end of the workday.
- Article 10: E-contact-free zones/days shall be negotiated to improve performance and jump-start innovation. Fines shall be levied when anyone sends e-messages after 7 p.m.