Uncovered: UK’s always-on culture is negatively affecting employees

Online task lists, mobile phones, shared memories and cloud documents make it easier than ever to access work-related emails and free communication tools such as WhatsApp or Skype allow almost everybody to work outside normal office hours. Nearly 50% of professionals said that this ultra-connected world had affected time spent with family and friends. Maybe it is time we take a good look at how technology is changing our physical and mental wellbeing.

Close to 80% employees recognise a negative effect on their stress levels, sleep quality and family life, according to a research conducted from CV-Library.  Analysing the results of a survey of 1.200 British employees on their ability to switch off from working life, it turned out that over 70% of participants conducted calls, or sent work emails, outside of office hours.

Even worse, more than one third of employees said they checked their smart phone for work-related messages as soon as they got up and right before going to bed. At the same time, 66% claimed they entered shared work spaces and shared drives outside the typical 9 to 5 working hours. The rapid evolution of today’s mobile devices has contributed to this negative trend. Over two thirds (72%) said that smart phones had made it ever more difficult to draw a line between our work and our personal lives.

How this always-on trend affects workers, according to CV-Library’s study:

  1. Insomnia and reduced quality of sleep: 53%
  2. Higher stress levels: 52%
  3. Not feeling energetic: 51%
  4. Less time for family and friends: 48%
  5. Not able to spend time on hobbies: 39%

The founder of CV-Library Lee Biggins comments the number of employees working outside normal office hours was of increasing concern, when asked for the effect of UKs always-on culture. According to Biggins, it’s obvious that this world of opportunities is having a negative impact on employee’s wellbeing. With easy access to shared drives and emails from home, many are feeling increasingly stressed, lose sleep and have less time to dedicate to their families.

One in three employees think that the amount of their work out of hours is contributing to poor work/ life balance. Nearly half of the professionals participating at the survey, claimed they left a job where they were not able to achieve a good work/ life balance. Considering these statistics, it seems critical for companies to encourage their employees to switch off after normal office hours if they want to retain talent.

In Biggins’s opinion, work/ life balance is of upmost importance, for professionals and businesses alike. Stressed and over-worked employees can lead to fatigue and less productive staff which can eventually result in serious medical conditions such as depression or burn out.