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Seoul will turn off workers' PCs to curb excessive overtime

It's just for government workers, unfortunately.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 25, 2018
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RUNSTUDIO via Getty Images

South Korea has a serious problem with overtime. A typical government worker puts in 1,000 more hours per year than their equivalents in other countries, which could easily affect their long-term health. Seoul's Metropolitan Government may have a simple technology-based solution, however: force workers' computers to shut down. It's launching an initiative that turns off all PCs by a set hour, giving staff little choice but to head outside.

The effort will start on March 30th, when PCs will start shutting down at 8PM. In the second and fourth weeks of April, PCs will shut off at 7:30PM on Fridays. And by May, PCs will turn off at 7PM every Friday. This is a blanket ban, too. There may be exemptions in special cases (and 67.1 percent of workers have asked for one), but there's a good chance that most workers won't get it.

This certainly isn't the first time we've seen organizations put a hard limit on work. France gave workers the legal power to ignore work email without fear of repercussions, while a Japanese company even invented a drone that nags employees until they accept that it's time to stop. However, Seoul's PC-based approach is particularly blunt -- it's ensuring that even the most obsessive workers finish in time to do something besides go to sleep.

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