Work-Life Balance

South Korea Is Turning Off PCs to Stop People Working Late

The experiment starts March 30, but by May all Seoul government employees will have their PCs turned off at 7 p.m. on Fridays.
South Korea Is Turning Off PCs to Stop People Working Late
Image credit: via PC Mag
Senior Editor
2 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag

Many of us regularly work late, and we do so for a number of reasons. It could be that there's a deadline you need to hit, your department is understaffed, you're trying to make up for time off, or worst of all, it's demanded of you by management and has become the norm. In South Korea, the problem seems to be getting out of hand and in the capital Seoul, the government decided to do something about it.

As the BBC reports, employees of the Seoul Metropolitan Government work an average of 2,739 hours every year. That's nearly 53 hours a week, every week of the year. It's also about 1,000 more hours than employees work on average in other developed countries.

The government in Seoul wants to stop its employees working such long hours and will attempt to do so by automatically shutting down all PCs on Fridays at 8 p.m. This experiment begins on March 30, but at some point in April the shut down time will be brought forward to 7:30 p.m. By May, if the experiment is going well, the time will be brought forward a final time to 7 p.m.

In theory, forcing every PC to be powered off should mean employees stop work, go home and enjoy their evening and weekend. However, there's no guarantee the employees will work less, they may just shift when they work by staying even later Monday to Thursday. Apparently 67 percent of employees have already asked for an exemption from the forced shut downs. Is that coming from them or their managers?

If the Seoul Metropolitan Government is serious about this initiative, then there really shouldn't be any exemptions given. It could also go a step further and make the automatic shutdowns happen every night.

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