Replying to after-hours emails? Ask your boss for a policy

2016-09-27 16:45 - Gareth van Zyl, Fin24
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David Willis, an analyst at research firm Gartner, addressing the growing issue of mobility in the workplace in Cape Town. (Gareth van Zyl / Fin24)

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Cape Town - Responding to emails after working hours is increasingly requiring your employer to draw up an explicit policy on this growing aspect of the working world.

This is according to David Willis, an analyst at research firm Gartner who was speaking to the media at a symposium in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The world is undergoing a major digital transition in which mobility means that you can work from anywhere, at any time, said Willis.

Previously, computing used to reach 10% to 20% of the workplace, but now it has the potential to reach 50% with the rise of mobile, Willis added.

And this growing computing access means that organisations also have to adapt their policies on aspects such as responding to after-hours emails.

"Rather than going to a location to where you have a PC or bringing a PC to type on, the opportunity is every moment of every day for every worker inside the business,” said Willis.

"So businesses have to be explicit about what the policy is for after-hours work," he said.

"But this challenge is especially acute for hourly workers, because, again, if I were replying at 2am in the morning on a Saturday, do I then get to bill that to my company?” added Willis.

Tracking workers

Another issue that needs to be explicit in an employer’s policy is whether or not they can track where you are and what you are doing via your mobile device, said Willis.

“So, we have to be explicit about does the business give themselves the right to track and employ location or do they explicitly say we do not do that,” said Willis.

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In industries such as trucking, drivers, for example, expect to have their locations and goods tracked.

But in the corporate world, workers are less accommodating of this, explained Willis.

"That is not acceptable for most professional workers. They don't want you to track their whereabouts during the day, they don't want you to track what applications they're using,” he said.

"Now the key here is just to lay out a policy on what you [the employer or business] intend to do,” he added.

This year's Gartner Symposium and ‘ITxpo’, which is taking place in Cape Town from September 26-28 2016, has so far addressed issues such as how chief information officers have to take into account aspects like the internet of things and real-time analytics.

READ: 5 ways that digital is changing the working world

Gartner, which is headquartered in the US, is a global information technology research and advisory company that has 1 600 research analysts and consultants and clients in 90 countries.

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