2degrees says its after-hours switch-off trial has been such as success that it's made the policy permanent.

The "digital disconnection" policy means "Home time is your time," says the telco's HR boss Jodie Shelley.

The telco's 1200 staff are under no obligation to respond to messages after they clock-off.

The idea is that properly rested employees will be healthier and more productive overall.


A staff survey found, unsurprisingly, that the policy was popular. Some 76 per cent had made a conscious effort to reduce after-hours email; 70 per cent said they felt less stressed and 80 per cent wanted it made permanent.

But there was one fly in the ointment. Shelley says some staff felt senior leadership weren't practicing what they preached - or "modelling" in management-speak.

And she freely admits that she was one of the management team who continued - and continues - to send emails after hours.

"We considered a total digital switch-off, but sometimes there are urgent situations involving customers, and some staff work glide time," she says.

She's one of the gliders, arriving in the office about 9.30am after dropping off her daughter at school, then making up time managing her email in the evening.

Execs and other staff will continue to send email at odd hours, but the important thing is that the receiver has been freed from the obligation to respond to prove their worth.

"We already know you're committed," Shelley says.

In her own case, she's made increasing use of Outlook's delayed-delivery option, to avoid pressuring respondents.


And staff have been known that if any all-hands-on-deck situation breaks out after-hours, they'll be hailed by text or voice, so constant glances at their inbox will be for naught.

Shelly says many staff have mentioned the "digital disconnect" policy on their out-of-office messages, which has drawn admiring or envious comments and remarks like "I've got to have a word with the boss."

Earlier, Christchurch-based psychologist John Eatwell told the Herald that employers should not send staff email after hours, because it made them feel obligated to respond.

Eatwell said although New Zealanders worked longer hours than many countries, there was a growing trend away from clearing inboxes after-hours.

He pointed to Nelson City Council, which in 2016 introduced a policy to block access to email and all tech systems for staff who are on annual leave.

In 2017, France became the first country to give workers the legal right to ignore after-hours emails.

"Home time is your time," says 2degrees HR boss Jodie Shelley. Photo / Supplied.

degrees' new policy was initially trialled after the telco commissioned research of 2000 people (see summary below) that found one third felt they had to respond to an after-hours email or text.

Some 57 per cent said they did so to keep on top of their workload, and 30 per cent because they felt it proved their commitment to their company.

Departing chief executive Stewart Sherriff says, "The health of our business comes down to the health of our people, and I look forward to talking with them following the initial trial period."

Why Kiwi workers say they feel obligated to reply outside of work hours:

• 57 per cent state they just like to stay on top of things

• 30 per cent to show they are committed


• 29 per cent because it's the nature of their job/ industry and things will fall over if they don't

• 13 per cent "because everyone else in my organisation does it"

• 8 per cent because they will get in trouble if they don't reply

Source: Nationwide survey of 2000 people, commissioned by 2degrees