Procurement · 9 January 2018

Majority of workers call for work email ban whilst on holiday

Laptop on garden background, slow life or freelance concept
37 per cent of workers aren’t able to go one day on holiday without checking work email

Taking a digital detox when on annual leave is something more and more employees are attempting to achieve, according to a new survey.

With the Christmas break over for UK workers, a survey from holidays business Oliver’s Travels has found that half of employees now actively try to switch off their work phone or laptop during holidays, in an effort to fix their work-life balance.

A survey of more than 1,400 staff at UK companies found that 60 per cent would encourage employers to introduce a work email ban whilst staff are on annual leave. However, 25 per cent said that to do so would be impractical.

The findings come amid growing concerns of a “digital overload” amongst workers. Indeed, the survey results showed that many staff may have become overly attached to their devices.

Read more: A guide to taking holidays as a freelancer or contractor

According to the survey, 56 per cent of the workforce are “addicted” to checking work communication regularly, whilst 37 per cent aren’t able to go a single day without checking their work email when on holiday.

Roughly 30 per cent of the workforce claimed they could last at least 48 hours without checking work email during annual leave. Meanwhile, just 11 per cent said they could last an entire holiday without getting sucked into work-related correspondence.

Commenting on the research, founder at Oliver’s Travels, Oliver Bell, called for a work email ban and greater protection for UK employees so that holiday time is more rewarding.

He said: “Overuse of digital devices is increasingly being blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they should actually switch off.

“The rise in flexible working arrangements has created an apparent ‘always-on’ work culture. British workers need protections put in place, like the French and Germans have already started doing, to ensure workers are able to properly enjoy their time off and return to work fully refreshed.”

The survey also revealed some common employee methods for attempting to mix work with relaxation during time off. A quarter of staff said that spending up to ten minutes a day responding to emails when on holiday was enough to “keep on top of work”, whereas 19 per cent said that between 20 minutes and an hour a day was enough time.

Bell added: “Employees often feel they are judged on their commitment to their companies and their availability to work yet the workplace is changing as rapidly as technology, with more and more employees working remotely or with colleagues in other time zones.

“Some of the challenges that come with flexibility are managing those boundaries between work and life and being able to say no, I am not working now and I’m simply not available.”

How to plan for the employee trend of taking short holidays more frequently

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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