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Leaders It’s Time to Listen Up, Right to Disconnect Legislation is Increasing

Overworked, exhausted, and feeling the constant pull to respond to work emails or messages after hours? You’re not alone. The blurring of boundaries between work life and personal life has become a pervasive issue, leaving many employees feeling drained and burnt out. This pressure not only takes a toll on mental health but also undermines overall well-being and productivity. According to a Forbes article, “Feel Pressure To Work After Hours? You May Be Less Productive, Not More,” Slack’s Workplace Lab surveyed 10,000 desk-based employees and found that people who log off at the end of the workday reported 20% higher productivity scores than those who feel the pressure to work after hours. Unsurprisingly, those who felt the need to log on after hours reported twice the work-related stress and burnout levels as their unplugged peers.

Additionally, the pressure to always be on can lead to increased anxiety and depression among employees. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “twelve billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety alone,” and “Depression and anxiety cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year predominantly from reduced productivity.”

How did we get here and what’s being done about it? Well, with the continued advancement of technology and the ability to be “always on” and connected through our devices, the lines of separation have all but been erased. To combat this issue, legislation, and laws around the right to disconnect have been gaining traction around the globe. Initially championed by France, the right to disconnect granted employees the legal right to ignore communications from their employers outside of working hours, since then, several other countries including Belgium, Italy, Ireland, and Kenya have introduced or piloted regulations around contacting employees after hours.

Here in the U.S.A, a recent bill introduced in California aims to provide employees with the right to disconnect, marking a significant step towards addressing the pervasive issue of employees being forced to be constantly connected. If passed, California would become the first state in the U.S.A to enact such a law; and with findings coming out of the recent Skynova study finding “that nearly 70% of workers reported their employer contacts them outside of normal work hours at least once a week,” this legislation may be right on time.

However, the journey to change will not be an easy one, and resistance to this change may not only come from employers but also from entrenched cultural norms and fear of social stigma. Employees may fear being ostracized or seen as less devoted if they disconnect from work communications after hours. Politicians and organizations may also be hesitant to embrace this shift, fearing potential backlash or perceived inefficiencies. Nonetheless, this legislation represents a fundamental shift in the employer/employee dynamics, prioritizing the personal time and well-being of employees over the constant demand for productivity.


Workplace culture is in need of an overhaul when it comes to respecting time out of the office.

Addressing the issue of overwork and constant connectivity is crucial not only for the well-being of employees but also for the overall productivity and success of organizations. It’s time to prioritize the right to disconnect and pave the way for a more sustainable approach to work.

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