South Korea is Shutting Down Computers to Stop Overtime Work, We Should Too

Recently, the South Korean government announced that they will be automatically shutting down government computers to stop overtime work.

Computers will be shut down preliminarily at 9pm on Fridays, before being shutdown at 7pm, after a six month waiting period.

Should we be following suit?

In Australia, working hours are actually higher today than in the 1990s, despite the rise of computers. The average employee works 42 hours a week, an increase from the average of 40 in previous decades.

What if automatically shutting down computers could solve this problem? If all government and company computers automatically shut down at 5pm, the culture of overwork could be largely hampered by a very simple software solution.

Software to automatically shutdown computers has had a big uptick in recent years due to the cost of keeping PCs on overnight. However, only recently have some considered using the technology to stop employees from overworking by mandating a scheduled shutdown time (e.g. 5pm).
Overtime work has become increasingly common since the advent of the PC.
In 2008, Ford Motors began saving 1.2 million dollars a year by shutting off company computers overnight at a scheduled hour. Other companies have followed similar measures to save energy, according to research.

In 2009, Software firm 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy (UK) commissioned a report on how much energy was used by companies leaving computers on overnight. The report found that UK companies lost $300 million a year keeping PCs on overnight. This is equivalent to 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution.

In 2013, researchers looked at whether office workers can self-report their energy usage in an office. They found workers unreliable at reporting working hours. Indicating a need for an automated system.

Other studies look at the link between ICT usage and energy usage.

Why should we prevent long working hours?

Long working hours and overwork have been linked to stroke and cardiovascular disease. They’ve also been linked with depression and mental illness.

In 2017, the South Korean government announced it would automatically shutdown employee computers at 8pm on Friday, to stop employees overworking and to prevent damage to their health. The computer shutdown will be mandatory for employees, but some can apply for an exemption.

How the software works:

Various software, apps and inbuilt PC/Mac technology can be used to automatically shutdown computers at night. Computers linked by a network can all be scheduled to shutdown at the same time.

Users can be automatically warned a minute prior to the shutdown at the scheduled hour.

This ensures employees save all work on their PC prior to the shutdown occurring.