A Work Email Blackout? Par-ty! Par-ty!

By Cindy Perman, CNBC.com

There's a bit of controversy brewing over employees being given company-issued mobile devices and expected to check email after-hours and whether or not it constitutes overtime. Volkswagen got around it with some of its union employees by shutting off their company email half an hour after their shift ends and turning it on only half an hour before their shift starts the next day.

No work email after-hours? Woo hoo! C'mon, Elaine, this calls for celebration!No work email after-hours? Woo hoo! C'mon, Elaine, this calls for celebration! If you've ever been involved in a work email outage, you know that it generally involves a lot of panic and profanity-laced tirades. You can hear the desperation in the emails that start: "My BB is down. Please email my gmail!!!!!"

So, when we put it to readers: "What would your reaction be if your company shut off your email after-hours?" with the response choices a) panic, b) relief, c) throw a party, d) not sure, we were sure that panic would be the far and away leader, with a modest showing from relief. We were sure that most people would react like Gina Vergel, who replied: "I would probably freak out!"

But you might be surprised by the results.

After nearly 1,000 results, the breakout winner was "Throw a party!" with about 50 percent of the vote. That was followed by relief with more than 30 percent. That means a full 80 percent of employees surveyed would welcome the opportunity for their work email to be shut off after-hours. Just 10 percent said they'd panic and another 10 percent said they weren't sure how they'd react.

That echoed results from a PC Magazine poll, which found that 43 percent of the respondents would like their company to turn off their work email after-hours.

Marie McIntyre, a career coach who has dealt with more than a few BlackBerry addicts, knew before we even asked the question that a party was in order.

"Employees with demanding managers who constantly intrude into their personal time would undoubtedly throw a party," McIntyre said.

"Technology was supposed to make things easier, to make us free. Instead we have become slaves to our devices!" one reader commented on CNBC.com.

Another reader offered this rallying cry: "If employees do not stand up for themselves, they will be working 24/7 from the dinner table and when they are in bed!"

This BlackBerry/iPhone addiction many of us have may just be simple byproduct of how new the technology is, another reader suggested. And while it may seem like obsessively checking email off-hours is a sign of great commitment and discipline in your work, this reader suggested that maybe it's the opposite - a lack of self-discipline and even *gasp!* a sign of some deeper insecurity.

What's worse - it may even be killing productivity.

"Switching between tasks - email, working on a project proposal, talking to a customer - is a form of multitasking and our brains are not wired to constantly shift back and forth," said Carson Tate, a managing partner at consulting firm Working Simply.

In fact, Stanford researchers have found that multitaskers take longer to toggle between takes and are less efficient at juggling problems.

And who are we to get in the way of productivity and efficiency?

Par-ty! Par-ty!


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