IREM Global Summit | Chicago | October 10-13

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When Duty Calls... Ignore It?

February 13, 2017 | Bethany Bijonowski

Does that familiar feeling of existential dread set in every time you see a new work email pop up on your smartphone, hours after you’ve left the office for the day? You’re not alone.

In an effort to protect the fragile barrier between work and free time, the French government introduced a new law on January 1st of this year. Companies with more than 50 employees will now have to set after work hours when staff can step away from email and phone calls without fear of penalty.

Lidia Henclewska, CPM, of Poland says “In my opinion, this law is practical and will likely be effective… In Poland, employers might expect employees to be accessible all the time. Nowadays, it is not easy to find a good job so there is a lot of pressure. Such a situation, over a long period of time, surely affects employees’ health.” Multiple studies back her up.

According to an NPR story about the French law, a study by Colorado State University found that merely expecting an email after work can cause enough stress to affect our overall health. And a study by the University of British Columbia concluded that people with unfettered access to their email were significantly more stressed than those who were only allowed to check it up to 3 times per day.

The property management industry is notorious for keeping people on call in case of an emergency situation. Pepe Gutierrez, CPM, of Spain says “I am in the EU too [like France], we have some restrictions about emails, but nothing like that. This law would affect property managers because we provide SOLUTIONS to the owners.”

For most property managers, outside of France, completely unplugging during nonworking hours seems like a very distant reality. Unfortunately, emergency situations rarely respect the 9-5 workday, and dealing with tenant and owner needs is a 24-7 job. But as most of our CPM and ARM colleagues will tell you, c’est la vie.

About the Author
Bethany Bijonowski is the International Services Administrator at IREM Headquarters.  She provides membership support for international members, chapters, and partners.

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