December 28, 2011

Volkswagen Instituting Mandatory Blackouts of Company Blackberry Use


While RIM and all things Blackberry have been struggling in the United States, the smartphones dubbed “crackberries” are doing quite well across the pond. That is both good and bad news for dedicated employees who are given corporate Blackberries. 

While these little devices are well-liked thanks to the ability to access emails and the Web away from the desktop, several companies have taken advantage of the devices. Employees have been complaining for quite some time that they can never really get away from work and just relax. For its part, Volkswagen appears to be relenting to its employee's demands, at least a little bit.

The popular car maker has issued a directive that says that it will deactivate its company email for its German workers, once office hours for the day are over. This was actually a pretty serious concern for labor representatives and the actual agreement was hammered over some pretty heated discussions. Eventually the two sides agreed that employees who have company Blackberries will receive emails from a half hour before their shift starts, until a half hour after their shift ends. After that, company emails will enter a blackout period.

While some of the German company's employees will certainly consider this a reason to celebrate, the agreement only covers those that under the protection of collective bargaining. This seems to mean that board level employees will still expect to be receiving emails at all hours of the day and night. While few companies are taking such forceful steps to make sure their employees are better balancing their work and private lives, the trend seems to be spreading across Europe.

Last year, the telecommunications company, Deutsche Telekom (News - Alert) instituted a policy where employees had to inform the company of blocks of time each day where they would not be reachable on their mobile devices. Volkswagen's policy is set to affect more than 1,100 employees across the six different plants that are located across Germany. 

The IT firm, Bitkom published a study earlier this year that shows that 88 percent of German employees are regularly contacted by clients, colleagues and bosses via cell phone and email. That number is up from 73 percent just two years ago.




Edited by Carrie Schmelkin