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A victory for the work life balance

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The invention of the Blackberry and the smartphone may be heralded as a great technological innovation, but for many office workers it means work encroaching into home life.

Being able to keep up to date with work can be useful, but not being able to switch off can also not be healthy, as more staff end up mobile working for longer hours than which they are paid.

One group of workers, however, has struck back and freed themselves from emails from the boss and work related business during their spare time.

A group of 1,000 workers employed by German car manufacturer, Volkswagen, are to have their emails disabled on their Blackberry when they are not in the office.

It comes after the works council of the car making firm launched a campaign backed by a trade union in order to prevent the practice of employees being unable to free themselves from work matters at home.

Other functions, including answering and making phone calls, are still fully enabled, but work emails are only allowed through to the devices within half an hour either side of the employee’s official working hours.

Despite this sounding brilliant to many people who find it difficult to separate their work and home lives, others would find the prospect quite daunting.

Flexible working is becoming more popular and many members of staff find the opportunity to work when suits them fits their other commitments.

Traditional nine to five schedules are more often being abandoned, but surely maintaining an element of choice is important.

The staff at Volkswagen obviously found that they preferred to have their two distinct worlds of work and home kept separate and that works better for them.

For younger staff this can often be the case, as they do not have the commitments of collecting children from school or other such demands as many older professionals.

Instead of issuing staff with a smartphone and expecting them to be at the company’s beck and call, adopting different strategies for different demographics of staff may help for a more harmonious work life balance for many.