Why we got obsessed with France's fake email ban.

We need better boundaries between work and play.

You probably saw a bunch of these headlines cropping up recently: “France bans work e-mail after 6 p.m.

French law makes weekend work emails illegal…

France Is About to Make After-Hours Work Email Illegal


France Has Banned Work Emails on the Weekends, And So Should We

Even if you didn’t buy that, more grounded stories were promising something that still sounded pretty great.

Allegedly, French President Francois Hollande’s administration had introduced new labor legislation that would give workers the “right to disconnect” after office hours.

According to the reports, companies with more than 50 employees would be legally required to draft “policies of conduct” that stipulate when work email could be sent or answered after normal business hours (which, for most people, is nights, weekends, and vacations).

To put it simply, after a French employee finished a full day at the office, their employers couldn’t require them to read or respond to any work emails until they got back to their desks the next day.

Can you imagine the freedom!?

GIF via "Broad City."

The story went viral for months, but it turns out it wasn’t 100% correct.

Apparently, the law only applies to employees who work hourly, and it doesn’t even kick in until after they’ve worked a 13-hour shift. That’s a far cry from “banning work emails after 6 p.m.”

The dream of a government really tackling work-life balance slowly died, and The Economist even issued this eulogy on April 14.

There’s a bigger question, though: Why did this French “right to disconnect” policy strike such a nerve with Americans?

Benoit Hamon’s quote for the BBC explains it well:

"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant. Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash — like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails — they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

Sound like you or anyone you know?

Right now, Americans are working more hours than ever before.

A 2014 Gallup poll found that white-collar workers employed full-time in the U.S. were working an average of 47 hours per week, dwarfing the office time of their peers in every other industrialized nation, including Japan!

Another poll that same year found that a third of these workers frequently checked their email after hours, too, so their long workdays didn’t end even after leaving their cubicles.

Meanwhile, employees in France enjoy a 35-hour week with sweet, sweet overtime pay guaranteed if they work more than that (although exceptions to this rule were just legalized).

How I imagine life in France.

With smartphones and email, we can now be productive even after we leave the office.

But this revolutionary level of freedom is also eroding protective boundaries ... boundaries we didn’t even know we needed.

Jennifer M. Grygiel, assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, studies the impact that email has on American work culture.

She says: “The trend toward mobile means that communications are tied to people regardless of their location. The workforce is now always on because of the connectivity of devices and people. Without guidance from the government, or employers, people could technically work around the clock. Humans are giving away more and more of their time for free because of technology.”

And tech entrepreneurs like Alex Moore, the founder of Boomerang, are finding out just how badly people want to take their schedules and personal time back from email.

He explains, "We've had dozens of customers write in to let us know that they signed up for Boomerang to try to implement [their own 'right to disconnect' policies].”

GIF via Rihanna's "Work."

Plus, it turns out that the efficiency and convenience of email might actually be slowing down our productivity.

Even with all that extra time we’re spending working (and burning out), we’re not getting very much done.

According to Diane Passage, a life coach based in New York City and fan of the French measure, “When a work-day has flexible parameters, there is a lack of urgency to get tasks completed by a reasonable hour. [However,] there is improved productivity when deadlines are in place, and there is a sense of accomplishment when deadlines are met.”

Americans clearly yearn for the “right to disconnect,” or at least some good boundaries between work and play.

But for now, it may be up to each of us to work on attaining it in lieu of government intervention.

So channel that joie de vivre and remember that your time outside of work should be yours and yours alone.

Vive la révolution!

Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture