Features, Internet Issues

Time And The Internet

By Deirdre Williams
By Deirdre Williams

CAN you work out the cryptic heading? The numbers refer to hours in a day/days in a week/weeks in a year. Since the Internet “happened” if you have a device that connects to it, particularly a mobile phone, then those numbers express your connection to the rest of the world unless you switch the device off, or there is a breakdown in the connection. And even then the messages will wait until you switch on or the connection is repaired. The Internet has changed things remarkably in the area of time.

So what happens if your employer provides you with a cell phone? Are you then “on call” 24/7/52? How do you separate your own time from time at work? What happens at weekends and when you are on leave? Are you really expected to read that great backlog of emails?

A very superficial piece of research on Google suggested that in many cases cell phone policy in businesses, at least in the United States, is concerned to prevent employee abuse of company time and company phones for personal business. There is also a strong prohibition on any use of cell phones while driving. Perhaps this is why the actions of Volkswagen, the German car maker and ATOS, an international IT company, made headline news. In 2011 Volkswagen announced that it would stop sending emails to employees outside of the shifts that they were working. The Chief Executive Officer of ATOS, Thierry Breton, decided to phase out the use of internal email altogether.

So how is this relevant to Saint Lucia? How important to employers is the ability to contact employees any time any where? Do employees find constant contactability to be burdensome? What policies, if any, are in place to provide a balance? Do employers and employees use other strategies to deal with the situation?

Comments welcomed at <williams.deirdre@gmail.com>

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