VW Is Right: Shut Off the BlackBerries

Why automaker's move to unplug employees makes sense

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 3, 2012 11:33 AM CST

(Newser) – Three cheers for Volkswagen! The German automaker has decided to turn off the email server for its employees' BlackBerries every day before and after work, and Roger Cohen of the New York Times thinks it’s a visionary move. Constantly being plugged into work has real costs, and while employees should be able to switch off on their own, BlackBerries are actually addictive. “Nobody expects addicts to self-administer the right medicine without help,” he writes.

Yes, connectivity helps productivity. But “it can also be counterproductive,” Cohen argues, thanks to “that contemporary state of anxiety in which focus on any activity is interrupted by the irresistible urge to check email or texts.” What’s more, we lose sight of where we are, inhabiting a “diffuse cyberlocation” instead. Even if your company doesn’t stage an intervention, he recommends unplugging. “Nobody will ever lie on his or her deathbed and say: ‘I should have kept my device on longer.’”

This picture shows a collection of Blackberry devices at a small restaurant in Jakarta on December 10, 2011.
This picture shows a collection of Blackberry devices at a small restaurant in Jakarta on December 10, 2011.   (Getty Images)
A picture taken on December 31, 2011 in Arles, southern France, shows a MMS with the New Year greetings on the screen of a smartphone.
A picture taken on December 31, 2011 in Arles, southern France, shows a MMS with the New Year greetings on the screen of a smartphone.   (Getty Images)
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