2degrees is trialling a new "digital disconnection" policy for its 1200 staff outside work hours.

The telco claims the policy is a New Zealand first.

Its HR boss, Jodie Shelley, says she doesn't want staff to feel obligated to answer a work message after they've clocked off.

"Home time is your time," she says.


The new policy was introduced after 2degrees 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.

She says the new guideline gives them the freedom to respond the next day without feeling guilty. "We already know you're committed," she says.

Two weeks into 2degrees' trial, Shelley says anecdotal results are very encouraging. She says people feel a sense of relief.

Departing chief executive Stewart Sherriff adds, "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."

The telco's enthusiasm only extends so far, however.

It hangs in the balance whether the trial will be translated to a long-term policy once the three-month trial ends.

And Shelley says 2degrees can still send staff email or txt after hours. The company considered a full screen-ban at times, but a number of its employees worked flexi-hours while other had to respond to urgent customers issue at times.

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

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

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.