Ending workplace creativity? C’est la vie

French labor unions and corporate representatives have unanimously come to an agreement that after a certain point every night, more than 250,000 employees would have an obligation to abstain from any workplace communications.

It may come as a surprise that the French, who are already limited to a 35-hour work week, are being criticized for the new proposal for a truly “uninterrupted” 11-hour rest period.

Or, if you have any sense of work ethic, it might be right in line with your own beliefs to call out their indolence. (“Paresseux,” the French word for “lazy,” is also an acceptable response to the proposal.)

 

 

Even so, calling the idea lazy or pointing out the time constraints already in place only assists in identifying the true outcome. Requiring employees to shut off their work phones, stop any after-hour number crunching and refrain from emailing truly harms their ability to be creative or flourish in their given position.

While at work, French employees have very little time per week to accomplish what must actually be done to keep their business afloat. While this increases productivity, in order for there to be any type of innovative practices, it would have to happen during their free time. But how will these creative leaps and bounds be able to be set in motion if servers are shut down and emails aren’t able to be sent?

It’s almost insulting to know that people won’t be able to work in their free time. It’s as if French labor unions are completely ignoring the chance that a person might actually enjoy their job and not want an 11-hour rest period on top of their already low hour work week. I guess it’s pretty unusual, but some people feel rewarded by working rather than punished.

To have a go-getter type work ethic in France must be frustrating, especially when surrounded by so many people who don’t care about what it is they’re doing at all and are just in it for the money and absurd amount of vacation time.

While it’s understandable that the French are trying to create a neutral, low-stress work environment and encourage employees to spend free time with their families, on vacations or just relaxing and enjoying themselves and their country, it is unfair to write off those who want to be workaholics — even if it is a very small percentage.

It’s this small amount of work-oriented people who are helping the French economy prosper and are rising to the top of corporations themselves. If the labor unions are proposing these constraints, do they harbor some type of animosity towards those who want to rise to the top or are they simply content with thousands of bottom feeders filling the French workforce? Sounds like a desperate attempt to ensure job security to me.

It comes down to our white-flag-waving allies eliminating not only creativity, but the sheer desire to do anything moderately interesting in their work lives. But then again, what would I know? I’m just a lazy American.

Reach the columnist at mjrodr11@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @mikayrodr

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.