Managers are experiencing an overlap between work and their leisure activities caused primarily by the increasing use of mobile technology, suggests a new report from CMI (Chartered Management Institute)

Managers now spend an average of 2.5 hours a week (three working weeks a year), on top of their usual working week researching, reading or learning for work in their own time. Career development activities, industry monitoring and work-related learning were found to take place frequently and voluntarily outside of core working hours and locations, largely enabled by mobile technology.

The survey of 2,000 UK adult workers by One-poll, revealed the extent to which being able to access the working world away from the office is now impacting managers’ lives. Of the 76% of managers who can use devices including smartphones, laptops or tablets to work, almost half (49%) check their emails just before going to sleep at night and a quarter (24%) check them again on waking before they get out of bed in the morning. In addition, 26% of managers check emails on their way to and from work and even social occasions are not email-free – 22% of managers monitor emails when they are socialising with friends and 9% when out on dates. Worryingly, 6% also report logging into work emails whilst driving.

The results indicate that this trend is only likely to grow in the future as 18 to 24 year olds – the next generation of managers – are the most likely age group to check emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night, work while commuting and use apps and social media for work-related purposes.

Although some might consider work an unwelcome intrusion into leisure time, the results show that, out of office hours, 59% of managers choose to visit websites related to their profession, 32% read magazines and journals about work, 30% read work-related books, 12% use social media for work purposes and 9% access professional smartphone apps. Almost a third of managers (32%) use their evenings or weekends to attend work-related events, courses or training sessions.

CMI chief executive, Ruth Spellman, says: “It’s clear managers are voluntarily indulging in certain work-related activities before and after work, as well as at weekends. This doesn’t mean they are actually doing their day-to-day job outside of office hours, it’s more about keeping up to date with news on the industry sector they work in, monitoring emails and making time for activities related to professional development such as reading books or magazines. This creates a bit of a grey area in the work-life balance debate. It’s very important that people keep an eye on how much of their free time they spend dipping into the world of work – maintaining a good work-life balance is vital. However, these aren’t activities people really consider as ‘work’, some are doing it because they genuinely enjoy their job and take an interest in their work more widely than their specific role.”

There is also evidence that the commute is increasingly being utilised as an extension of the working day with only 30% of managers now consider the time spent travelling to and from the office to be a ‘work-free zone’. Almost as many managers (23%) use the internet to work during commuting time as do more traditional activities such as reading newspapers (26%). During their commute, 21% of managers read work documents, 17% do work on laptops and 15% read work-related books.