London - For those who struggle to switch off, it is an unavoidable distraction that can cause family rows.
The temptation to read work emails on holiday can be hard to ignore, with more than half of office staff in a survey admitting they do so.
But one of the world’s largest car manufacturers is determined to help employees leave their work behind – by automatically deleting their emails.
Bosses at Stuttgart-based Daimler are giving their 100 000 staff members the option of having their inbox cleared while they are away, removing any temptation to check it.
Anyone sending an email to the holidaying worker are notified by a ‘Mail on Holiday’ message, which tells them that their email has been erased.
They are invited to contact a nominated substitute instead.
Daimler board member Wilfried Porth told the Financial Times: “Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails.
“With ‘Mail on Holiday’ they start back after the holidays with a clean desk. There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”
For those who receive hundreds of emails in the space of a few days, the prospect of returning from a break to an empty inbox may sound appealing.
But the system also raises questions of whether choosing to use it may result in the employee being branded work-shy. Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, said its staff are free to decide whether to use the system – and insisted it would not record who had done so.
In Germany, the statutory annual holiday is 24 days although large companies such as Daimler offer 30 days for full-time employees. The German government has pushed for initiatives to improve work-life balance, and the labour ministry has told managers to stop contacting staff out-of-hours except in an emergency.
Managers at Deutsche Telekom agreed to stop sending emails to staff during evenings, weekends and holidays, while in 2011 Volkswagen announced company servers would stop routing emails to employees’ BlackBerrys in the evening.
The trend comes as more than half of UK-based office staff admit to checking their emails while on a break abroad, according to a survey from online travel agent Travel Republic.
It found 52 percent will log in for work when they should officially be relaxing and 26 percent of those said they would respond to emails. Women were more relaxed than men, with 54 percent saying they never looked at work emails during time off, compared with 42 percent of men.
Reading emails caused 36 percent of couples to argue and 70 percent of women said they had a problem with their partner checking emails on holiday, compared with 58 percent of men.
The poll of 1 000 UK workers, found younger staff were the most conscientious, with 38 percent claiming to reply to emails on holiday, compared with 29 percent of those aged 45-54.
Travel Republic’s Elliott Pritchard: “The reality is that many office workers cannot completely turn off.” - Daily Mail