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Germany – Delete emails to improve work life balance

15 August 2014

German vehicle-maker Daimler has an innovative approach to holiday email according to the BBC. Which many people during this holiday season may well wish their company would copy so that they don’t return from their break with a mountain of unanswered correspondence.

Email a Daimler employee while they are on holiday and you will get a message like this:

I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact Hans or Monika if it's really important, or resend the email after I'm back in the office. Danke Schoen.

Apparently, people receiving such a notification rarely get angry. "The response is basically 99% positive, because everybody says, 'That's a real nice thing, I would love to have that too,'" Daimler spokesman Oliver Wihofszki told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The response on Twitter has also been overwhelmingly positive. "I love Daimler's approach to holiday email," says the entrepreneur Nuno Almeida, while the FT's Hanna Kuchler tweets: "Now this is email management."

The auto-delete policy - which is optional - follows a piece of government-funded research on work-life balance, which Daimler carried out in 2010 and 2011 with psychologists from the University of Heidelberg. The company now trains managers to set a good work-life example, and encourages them to set aside time when no meetings can be scheduled. This is supposed to be a time when workers can concentrate on their job, or take time off for any extra hours they have spent in the office.

Daimler's move follows Volkswagen's decision to turn email off after office hours and new guidelines in France ordering workers in some sectors to ignore work emails when they go home, which we covered in here.

It's not pure altruism though, as the company explained when the policy was launched: "The aim of the project is to maintain the balance between the work and home life of Daimler employees so as to safeguard their performance in the long run."

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