05/27/2016 03:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why France's New Rule About No Email on Weekends Is a Bad Idea


You may have heard the news that France has introduced new legislation named "The Right to Disconnect", mandating that companies create formal rules specifying the hours when employees aren't supposed to send or receive email. For most companies, this will likely mean limiting email in evenings and weekends. This French legislation isn't the first of it's kind in Europe. Last year, Sweden announced a switch to 6-hour work days.

I strongly support reinventing work and making work a more positive and meaningful part of our lives. I am all for disconnecting. I espouse people having more time for life rather than spending all of their time focused on work.

I believe that we are certainly on our devices more than we should be. I believe in phone-free dinners with friends. I believe in limiting your own screen-time, especially before sleep time. I believe strongly in life being far more important than any job. But I also believe that mandating time that people should be working or not working is the wrong way to promote great work and awesome living.

What if, instead of making a rule about when people can work, we let them decide?

In our lives, we decide where to go to school, what to take, what car to buy, who to marry, where to live, how to raise our children. Surely, we can decide when to get our work done.

For many people, including those I work with, the flexibility to work on weekends rather than from 9-5 Monday to Friday, is key. Kelly, the mother of a 1-year old child, chooses to be home with her daughter and to get work done during naps, evenings and weekends as she decides to. For me, as an entrepreneur, I love the freedom I have to meet a friend or family member for coffee during the day, maybe play a round of golf on a spring morning, and get anything I didn't complete finished on the weekend.

What if we stopped judging people about how they spend their time?

In a Results-Only Work Environment, which is how I operate my business, people are accountable to get their work done with full autonomy to determine how, when, and where. We don't judge people for how they spend their time working. It is actually quite easy to stop is judging people for not working. I find it more difficult to stop myself from judging people for working during typical "off" hours.

Recently, my new team member was completing work over the weekend. I saw her posting documents in our project software, and a few emails came through about work. At our next meeting, I told her "you don't need to work on the weekend!" and was met by the response that she liked being able to do that. She was enjoying the work, had more time on the weekend versus through the week, and it was her choice. I realized that I was judging her. In a ROWE we call this Sludging, and it is the first thing to stop.

What if, instead of creating more rules, we created less?

Couldn't we all do with a little less bureaucracy and control over how we manage our work? I hope this law doesn't spread before people realize the more positive, human alternatives -- flexibility, freedom and accountability for getting work done, not when you do it.