It's no secret that our work-life balance is off-kilter these days, thanks in part to technology that makes us available at all hours to get back to micromanaging bosses and demanding clients. Why, oh why, can't we watch our favorite television shows at home without the distraction of work-related emails and messages?
Well, a company called Winward Studios has created a new app called "Enforced Vacation" to take the pressure off employees to always be "on." It's going to withhold our work emails from us as soon as we go home! Now we can watch a new episode of The Daily Show in peace!
Enforced Vacation has an aggressive name, but the result it's banking on providing is more relaxation and peace of mind for workers and employers alike. The enterprise email app wants to put an end to 24/7 email access, a freedom that actually results in subjection to work well beyond office hours. It does this by essentially putting a power switch in the hands of the employees, allowing them to turn off work emails during personal time.Sounds great. Of course, the success of this type of app depends in large part on our human ability to stop reflexively checking our messages every few minutes. Can we go more than 5/10/15/20 minutes without aggressively checking our gadgets for incoming information? What's our personal best when it comes to refraining from checking, or even wondering, what's in our inbox? Will we think: "I can't stand it anymore, I'm deleting this app so I can read my work emails at home! I'm going crazy wondering what's in my inbox!"? The fault lies not in our apps, but in ourselves. Or we can blame the Great Recession. Okay, let's do that instead.
“We give people back their personal time. Staying constantly connected has become an addiction for many. For many others it's a weight they think they have to carry,” explains David Thielen, CTO and Founder of Winward Studios, the creators of Enforced Vacation.
And why isn't there an app called "Enforced Attention Span" to make us pay attention in the moment, because that's what we really need, don't we? Hello? I'm talking to you guys, could you please look up from your phones?!
Enforced Vacation does allow employees to access their new, work-related emails if they're desperate for some reason, and they can personalize the app to their individual work-life schedules, which is nice.
Could Enforced Vacation be the answer to our work-related burn-out woes? Managers who are serious about work-life balance could introduce this app to show they're serious about work, unplugged. Perhaps management can send out an urgent, company-wide email about it at 11 p.m. and ask for an immediate reply.