HR · 15 May 2018

Revealed: How Britain’s always-on culture is really affecting employees

always-on culture
Almost half of employees said technology had affected time spent with family

As smart phones make it easier than ever to access work emails, shared drives and cloud documents outside of the nine-to-five, perhaps it’s time we considered how this ultra-connected world has affected our physical and mental wellbeing.

According to new research from CV-Library, the always-on culture is hitting sleep quality, stress levels and family life, with almost eight in ten professionals recognising a negative effect.

In a survey of 1,200 UK employees exploring the impact of technology on our inability to switch off from working life, 72.4 per cent of respondents admitted they sent work-related emails, or sent calls, outside of hours.

Even more worryingly, over a third of professionals claimed they checked their mobile phone for work purposes right before going to bed and as soon as they woke up.

Meanwhile, two-thirds said they accessed shared drives and workspaces outside of their contracted hours.

The capabilities of smart phones appeared to have much to answer for. Some 71.9 per cent agreed that mobile devices had blurred the lines between our personal and our work lives.

CV-Library asked workers which areas of their life had been impacted by the always-on culture.

The impact of our always-on culture

  1. Poor quality of sleep – 52.8 per cent
  2. Increased stress levels – 51.9 per cent
  3. Feeling exhausted – 50.6 per cent
  4. Spending less time with family – 47.6 per cent
  5. Unable to do enjoyable hobbies – 38.8 per cent

Commenting on the impact of Britain’s always-on culture, CV-Library founder Lee Biggins said the number of professionals working outside of contracted hours was of mounting concern.

“While technology has opened us up to a world of opportunities, it also makes it all too easy to access emails and shared drives from home,” Biggins said.

“And it’s clear that this is having a negative impact on their wellbeing, with many losing sleep, feeling increasingly stressed and having less time to enjoy their private lives.”

Predictably, work-life balance has taken a significant hit. Almost one in three workers believe their work-life balance is now poor due to the amount their work out of hours. Almost half revealed they had even left a job due to an unhealthy balance.

Biggins added: “Work-life balance is hugely important, not just for employees, but for businesses as well. Over-worked staff can become fatigued, will be less productive and ultimately could end up burning out.

“With almost half admitting that they have left a job where they were unable to achieve a good balance, encouraging staff to switch off after work is vital if you wish to retain talented employees.

Biggins concluded with some points of advice for employers – ensure staff take time to re-charge, and even ban them from accessing emails and shared drives outside of work altogether.

“Offering flexible working can also help employees to better shape their work around their private life. And, practise what you preach. Create a culture where work-life balance is encouraged, and ensure that senior staff aren’t seen to be putting in all hours under the sun!”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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