By La Vanguardia.

Technological advances have created a world in which we live totally connected. This has carried over to the workplace as well. But what if we are talking about our free time… are we connected in this space as well?

Mobile phones are changing both the way we work and how we spend our free time. How many times have we had to answer numerous work related emails during out free time while lying on the sofa? And what about picking up the phone while on holiday? Well if you weren’t aware, digital disconnection is a worker’s right.

Adecco conducted a survey showing an increasingly common reality. 51.5% of respondents state they check work related email while on holiday. Half of them check it one or two times daily and 9.3% do son constantly. Only 3.7% of them check just before returning to the office to get back up to date.

Furthermore, 60% of workers attend to work calls. More than 20% of them answered every call and 38.8% only answered the most important calls.

Rigth to disconnect

According to the new Constitutional Organic Law on Data Protection passed by the Congreso de los Diputados in November, workers have the right to digitally disconnect so they can avoid paying attention to work issues during times of rest, vacation, and leave.

The articles included in the law establish that: “Workers and public employees should have the right to digital disconnection in order to guarantee, outside the legal or conventionally established working time, respect for their time of rest, leave, and vacation, as well as their privacy”.

Also, the law highlights that businessmen should apply an internal policy towards employees to establish a manner in which to apply this right and the training and sensibility in regard to the proper use of digital tools to avoid the threat of technological fatigue.

On the other hand, it details that the way to exercise the right should be according to collective negotiation, or between the company and trade union officials, and it should take into account the “nature and reason of the working relationship, as well as promote the right to reconcile work with personal and family life”.

Before being passed, during the report on the new law, the socialist representative Artemi Rallo stated: We are aware of the social reality where private relationships and the necessity of reconciling work and private life are concerned because of the use of mobile phones and digital devices used as a tool of work obligations”.

Recognition of this right will be included along with other recognizable digital rights, in the new law, in the Statute of Workers and the Basic Statute of the Public Employee.

Right to privacy on work devices

Concerning your job, the law recognizes the right to privacy when using company mobile phones and PCs as well as privacy concerning the use of video surveillance and geolocation.

The employer will be able to access these devices, but with restrictions. Specifically, he/she can do so only to make sure that the worker is fulfilling his/her work obligations and to guarantee the integrity of these devices.

If it can wait until tomorrow, do it then!

Apps such as WhatsApp or receiving email on your phone makes such devices vibrate frequently outside of working hours. If it something you can do tomorrow… Why check these messages and calls? One of the main reasons of being unable to switch it off is the sense of guilt or thinking “I’m neglecting my duties”.

Furthermore, calls from coworkers or supervisors, and lack of coordination don’t do any good. That’s why being dependable is essential in business.

If businesses make it possible for workers to disconnect it will favour performance and productivity at work. Only 28% of Spanish companies state they have disconnection policies. Most of them are SEMs. However, some larger companies, like Santander Bank have already recognized the right to disconnect.

As logical as it seems: Free time is FREE TIME

The company presided by Ana Botín has planned several measures in order to get their workers to disconnect outside of working hours. They are not obliged to answer calls, messages or emails once they finish with their working time.

Santander Bank wants to improve the quality of life for the employee. Complying with vacation leave and time for rest is essential to guaranteeing welfare and increasing productivity.

The new way of working

One must pay attention to the many habits created by Spanish businesses that make difficult a work-life balance. Long meetings at uncomfortable hours. Santander Bank counts on telecommuting and giving up step by step the traditional presence. When doing so they are looking for flexibility.

In conclusion, measures carried out by the business are shown in the new vision of promoting the “right for worker disconnection”.