My coworkers won’t stop contacting me on my days off

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 30s. I work as a company employee, and I’d like some advice about my job.

Ever since I was promoted to management last year, all kinds of people have been calling me and messaging me on the free LINE app at all hours of the day and night, even on my days off. It’s a sure recipe for stress.

People contact me to seek advice about work itself or even about subordinates’ absences from the office. At first I thought I should just do my best, so I would exchange messages and get back to people even on weekends.

However, it’s gotten to the point that I can’t get a bit of rest, and my weekends are days off in name only. I can’t fully recharge my batteries.

LINE messages in particular were driving me crazy, so I’ve been shutting off my smartphone on the weekend. However, my boss said to me: “Why have you been taking so long to respond to me? It bothers me when my messages go unread.”

I think there are many offices besides my own that are like this. Please tell me how I can cope with this problem.

M, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. M:

“Are you ready to do battle 24 hours a day?” In the Heisei era, commercials with this kind of message were popular, but the scary thing is that with the introduction of LINE into the workplace, this 24-hour battle could move from being a metaphor to a description of reality.

As you know, LINE makes it possible for messages about work to reach you on weekends and at any time of the day or night, and for bosses to constantly monitor the actions of their subordinates.

Of course, the internet is a powerful tool of the modern era. It is undoubtedly convenient, but that holds true only so long as it continues to make things easier for humans. We have to devise ways of using the internet that are appropriate to this current era of work-style reform.

I suggest you devote yourself to establishing a company rule that bans the use of work-related phone calls and LINE outside of normal working hours, except in emergency situations. Though there would likely be a lot of fine details to work out, I think this step alone would make things a whole lot easier.

To make it a reality, you would have to win over your coworkers, including your boss. It would probably require establishing better lines of communication during working hours, and getting used to a new system takes time. To create a better workplace, strive to popularize a work style suited to the times we’re living in by seeking to persuade the people around you.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from June 2, 2019, issue)Speech

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