When E-mail kills…

My dear friend Guy sent me a link to a story on InternetNews the other day. It addressed the spate of suicides and suicide attempts at France Telecom (a key brand of Orange) in the last year (22 with 13 attempts).  The CFO of the company, Gervais Pellissier, admitted that 24/7 connectivity, thanks to contemporary hand-held devices, has increased employee stress levels exponentially. The very telecommunications industry that spawned our hyperconnectivity is the very one to meet its own demise.

“When you were an average employee in a big corporation 15 years ago, you had no mobile phone or no PC at home. When you were back home, work was out,” he said.

orangeWork was out. Done. Finished. And now people are finishing themselves off as they realize twenty-four hours a day is not enough. Somewhere along the line, people forgot that every business is comprised of people, not just machines.

I claim we have an abundance of time, but we need the heads of corporations, such as France Telecom, to realize there is also a limit to our availability. Just because I have 24 hours a day doesn’t mean the company owns it all.

Ironically, France has the most vacation days in the world. Yet people are ill-equipped to handle the expectations our 24/7 world has placed upon them. We need to return to a state of civility and normalcy in which our time-off is our own.

Just because we can answer the phone at midnight doesn’t mean we have to. I plead for more sanity in our workplace.

Enough is enough.


  1. Suzanne

    October 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Well said! I believe many workplaces believe this: “Because our competition is on 24/7, we feel we need to be, too.” It’s almost like the nuclear arms race — someone needs to disarm first and trust the others will do the same. A slow, methodical “backing down” from 24/7 would be a wise societal move. Okay, who’s first?

    1. powerofslow


      October 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm

      I’d say we take a preemptive strike at our own insanity. Honestly, we need to realize that simply because we can doesn’t mean we have to. Whenever I find myself doing obsessive things, I take a deep breath and close my eyes, then stand up and walk around my chair three times. It helps sort the brain.

      On another note, I wonder if Obama sleeps with his BlackBerry tucked under his pillow. My guess is people know where to find him if they need him…! 🙂

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