Remote and flexible working can lead to ‘burnout’ and promote an ‘always-on’ culture

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Remote and flexible can lead to 'burnout' and promote an 'always-on' culture

Flexible or remote working can lead to ‘burnout’ and an ‘always-on’ culture, despite employees calling for it as they believe it will lead to a good work-life balance and predict it will be the most popular method of employment in the future.

Buffer, a software application for the web and mobile conducted a survey, the state of remote work 2019, which found that employees who work flexibly or remotely are struggling with unplugging from their jobs, loneliness, and communication.

John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, a business psychology organisation believes employees’ lack of ability to disconnect is of concern to the wellbeing and productivity of the workforce.

Mr Hackston says as our smartphones are always on, we struggle to switch off, this is the ‘always-on’ culture. The Myers-Briggs Company’s report, the company’s global trends report shows an overlap between work and home life is linked to negative outcomes such as increased stress, decreased performance, low satisfaction with family life, poorer health, reduced life satisfaction and decline in sleep quality.

The company believes as employers can now contact staff from anywhere and at any time, the boundary between home and work life has blurred at a rapid rate. Also due to the increased popularity of remote working, the physical separation between office and home is also disappearing.

In a separate survey, Myers-Briggs found that just under two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees believe they should not check their emails out of regular work hours, yet 31 per cent think their employer or client expects them to.

Mr Hackston said:

Remote working and modern technology is a great addition to the workplace as it gives employees the power to work how and where they like. However, if not kept in check, the tendency to be ‘always-on’ can have negative repercussions on both the efficiency of organisations and the wellbeing of employees.

Collaboration and connectivity are two key facets of the modern workplace, and as such, it is up to workplaces to combat this issue as a collective. Self- control has little influence in changing the ‘always-on’ working culture – instead, it requires leaders to lead by personal example. In our research, we found that workers in organisations that did not allow employees to switch off were more stressed and had lower levels if job satisfaction.

As the UK is experiencing a stagnated level of low productivity, the company thinks it is essential that businesses look at their working cultures in order to address the ‘always-on’ stance employees are taking as it can heighten ‘burnout’, exhaustion and a stressed workforce.

The Myers-Briggs asked more than 350 employees in order to put together their survey.

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. This issue is not new to the world of field based salespeople, where I began my career way back in 1982. The difference then of course was that instead of email we had only the telephone – and the informal rule we had in the Region I worked in was that there were no telephone calls in the evening when we were back at home after 10.00pm!

    When facilitating events for managers of field based sales teams, I emphasise that when the team is highly engaged, then the issue isn’t getting them to work; the issue is stopping them from working so they don’t experience burn-out. Which is easy to say – but unless we provide managers with an understanding of precisely how to do this, and the important role they have as role models, then we are failing to provide them the support they need to maximise their effectiveness.

  2. Absolutely agree with the main message provided by Tim above. We need to give everyone the skills to avoid burnout and I speak as someone with a track record of doing so. The impact on performance is significant.

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