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knocking off Calling time on annoying work email

As of Thursday, people here have the right not to be kept looped in, reached out to do or, indeed, have their base touched by either email or phone outside of normal working hours.

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Millions of people have been working from home (Joe Giddens/PA).

Millions of people have been working from home (Joe Giddens/PA).

Millions of people have been working from home (Joe Giddens/PA).

Hey gorgeous, I hope you’re well!

Just wanted to touch base about the news that annoying after-hours work emails have been barred.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this week signed a new code of practice giving workers the ‘right to disconnect’ after knocking off for the day.

As of Thursday, people here have the right not to be kept looped in, reached out to do or, indeed, have their base touched by either email or phone outside of normal working hours.

And CC-happy bosses who persist in pestering staff during binge-watching time may find themselves in front of the Workplace Relations Commission.

Speaking about the directive, which applies to every industry, the politician explained: “It will help employees, no matter what their job is, to strike a better work-life balance and switch off from work”, and for once, it’s not a pile of – ahem – junk.

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this week signed a new code of practice giving workers the ‘right to disconnect’ after knocking off for the day. Photo: rollingnews.ie

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this week signed a new code of practice giving workers the ‘right to disconnect’ after knocking off for the day. Photo: rollingnews.ie

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this week signed a new code of practice giving workers the ‘right to disconnect’ after knocking off for the day. Photo: rollingnews.ie

Pre-dating the internet, email was first developed in the US as a way of enabling one computer to communicate with another computer.

More than 50 years on, it’s become the landfill for every flash sale, billionaire prince and GoFundMe going – and that’s before you even log into your work email.

Despite the surge in group chat services such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and WhatsApp, the good old-fashioned email is still the preferred mode of communication for 73pc of workers, according to a survey by Perkbox Insights.

But while electronic mail has undeniably changed the world for the better, it’s also become the bane of our lives (just ask Hillary Clinton), with the incessant ping-ping-pinging becoming even more deafening in lockdown.

A restrained one-in-five spend between one and two hours a day sifting through ‘URGENT!’ or – arguably worse – work emails with no subject line whatsoever each day.

A more unfortunate 15pc waste five-plus hours daily wading through ‘per our conversation’ and ‘not sure if you saw my last email’ emails.

Even off the clock, almost a third check their inbox ‘every few hours’, the study also found.

Leo’s ‘round robin’ is a great first step in encouraging pandemic-fatigued workers to unplug.

As the Employment Minister is still welcoming submissions on remote working rights, I’d go even further with a labour court-mandated ban on colleagues using emojis, signing off with kisses and caps lock abuse.

Meanwhile, I plan to lead by example by switching on my out-of-office and enjoying the rest of the week offline – until the ‘Happy Monday!’ missives come flooding in.

dreynolds@sundayworld.com

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