How One Boss Tries To Improve His Employees’ Work-Life Balance

By Diane Stafford
The Kansas City Star

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) CEO Rob Freeman’s after-hours email policy for his employees dovetails with a “right to disconnect” law that recently went into effect in France. Both seek to address the always-connected world of work and the stresses on personal life.

The Kansas City Star

Rob Freeman got all kinds of pushback when he suggested an internal policy to ban after-hours emails between employees at Tradewind Energy.

“People didn’t like the idea because they saw a negative effect on their flexibility, of being able to work when they wanted to work,” said the CEO of the Kansas company that develops large-scale wind and solar power projects.

“I did it anyway.”

After months of well-intentioned suggestions that employees needed down time, that they should disengage from their jobs at night and on weekends, Freeman had seen little change. So he dictated a policy, one that he policed by calling out violators who sent internal emails between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Now, several months after the ban, he said he sees only truly urgent emails sent after hours and sent only to co-workers who must be involved in handling the urgency. He’s also noticed that the definition of “urgent” changed.

“If it absolutely has to be handled at the moment, pick up the phone or text the person who needs to know,” Freeman recommended.

The Tradewind Energy policy dovetails with a “right to disconnect” law that went into effect in France on the first of the year. Both seek to address the always-connected world of work and the stresses on personal life.

“People who didn’t think it would work now say thank you,” Freeman said. “It’s been a game changer to help them disengage from work, pay attention to their families, pursue hobbies.”

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