The line between work and personal time has blurred thanks to the ability to access work-related emails outside the office. While some employers may be fine with this (what’s better than work done off the clock, after all?), it’s important to maintain a wall between work and home that is more stable than those flimsy cubicle partition panels.
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.
“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.
While reading or responding to email doesn’t seem like a burden, research suggests it takes a bigger toll than one might imagine. A recent Gallup poll found that those who checked their email on a mobile device outside of work reported higher stress levels than those who didn’t. The concept of “leaving work at work” is easier said than done when it’s just a few taps to find out if a client sent you an important email, but doing so just adds extra weight to your load of things to worry about.
Individuals are able to set up Enforced Vacation to fit their schedules, allowing a more personalized experience than company-wide blanket on and off periods. Group leaders are able to modify settings for a selection of people, set filters, and toggle settings as needed. Enforced Vacation also provides email necessities, including the ability to search, filter, and prioritize emails.
And if there’s any need to get into your inbox while off the clock, it is still possible. Emails received during work hours are still viewable, high priority contacts and messages can be viewed, and users can still send emails when necessary.
The benefit for companies, though it might not seem as clear, is simple: A happy employee works better. “We have employees here at Windward who are never off email. This is a giant problem because it leads to burn out, it degrades their personal life, and they never have a chance to relax and recharge,” Thielen says. “Employees that leave work behind are more innovative and productive. Both when they come in to a new day refreshed. And it’s when they’re not thinking of work at all that most of the truly brilliant ideas pop into their mind. Brilliance requires down time.”
The idea utilized by Enforced Vacation capitalizes on concepts already in place overseas. French work unions have made efforts to make work emails off-limits outside of work hours; German Labor Minister Guntram Schneider has pushed for “anti-stress laws” that outlaw work emails after hours; The Canadian Mental Health Association has suggested only checking email a few times a day and shutting it off when outside the office. Enforced Vacation puts those principles into practice.
Enforced Vacation is out now and is available for free for the first month. It costs $1 per user per month. Each user gets 1 GB of bandwidth free, with each additional GB of bandwidth priced at 15 cents. There is currently no individual plan available.