Employees working longer hours due to technology

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Mobile workforce
Mobile technology is making it difficult for workers to turn off

Many UK employees are working longer hours due to the impact of workplace technology, a new survey has revealed.

The survey of 1,500 public and private sector workers was commissioned by civil service and public sector membership organisation Boundless. It found a third of workers say technology, such as mobile phones and remote email access, cause them to work longer hours than they did five years ago.

Over a quarter of public sector workers and a third of private sector workers say they remain in ‘work mode’ even when they have finished due to technology.

Despite this, public sector workers are more likely to struggle with mentally leaving work behind. Almost a third (31%) say they are unable forget about work and relax after finishing, compared with just 20 percent of private sector staff.

The research also found that those in the private sector enjoy a better work-life balance and have more free time outside of work.

More than a quarter (28%) of public sector workers say they are unable to spend quality time with family during the week, compared to a fifth of those in the private sector. 27 percent of workers in the public sector and 20 percent of workers in the private sector admit they don’t have a good work-life balance.

Half of those in the public sector don’t see week nights as an opportunity to socialise, compared to two-fifths (37%) of those in the private sector.

Participants were also asked about attitudes towards working arrangements, which revealed perceived differences between the public and private sectors may no longer be the case.

The Government’s 2014 legislation that gives each employee the right to request flexible working hours may have caused the private sector to catch up with the public sector in granting requests for such arrangements. Almost the same ratio of public and public and private sector staff (50% compared to 49%) felt their employers were supportive of the need for flexible working hours.

Other perks were also valued highly, with 62 percent of public sector and 67 percent of private sector employees saying they felt it was important their employer provided good benefits, such as, health insurance, pensions or leisure offers.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Carl Fillery, chief executive of CSMA Club, says:

“The advent of certain types of technology has had a dramatic effect on the way we work, but one of the more worrying effects is the impact it has on people’s leisure time, especially if people feel the need to constantly check emails on company mobiles or be available to respond to phone calls if needed, meaning they can never fully switch off.

“If these types of communication are required for business, then its important employers help their staff find other ways to make the most of their leisure time. Many of the respondents said they still valued additional benefits, such as health insurance and leisure offers, and these will be key in boosting staff motivation, productivity and, ultimately, loyalty.”

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  1. I think it is far too much of a generalisation to say that Public sector has caught up with private sector. There are some areas of Public sector where workload and stress level is extremely high e.g. A&E in a busy hospital. However I believe there are still some areas of public sector where the pace and pressure is a lot easier than private sector and although a lot of change is going on and conditions are getting worse people don’t appreciate that actually life is quite good.

    In terms of technology I like the fact that I can keep in touch with work easily with my mobile phone and easy access to work e mail. I still can and do turn it off and relax sometimes. But if I want to know what is going on I believe it is less stressful to have easy access. I think work life balance is about self discipline and about having the common sense to make times when you completely switch off. Not only is this good for your health I believe it means you are able to do a better job by having a break from it and going back to the pressure refreshed and with some new energy

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