People often refer to our inability to switch off from work as the ‘always on’ culture. This includes behaviours such as taking work home with you, or accessing shared workspaces outside of office hours.

Below, we look at the ‘always-on’ epidemic that has swept the UK and how many professionals are struggling to achieve a good work-life balance.

How bad is the always-on work culture in the UK?

Concerning new research from CV-Library revealed that a staggering 72.4% of Brits confess to replying to work-related emails, or making work-related calls, in their free time.

What’s more, one in three (34.8%) admit that they check their phone for work related purposes immediately before they go to sleep and as soon as they wake up. A further 34.9% have access to shared drives and workspaces, with 62.1% saying that they access these outside of working hours.

What problems is this causing for professionals?

The majority of professionals (78.3%) believe that the always-on culture is having a negative effect on today’s workforce. Respondents were asked to share how working outside of their contracted hours has affected their life.

The top problems to emerge include:

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

This has led to 71.9% agreeing that mobile devices are blurring the lines between our personal and our work lives. Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, comments on the findings:

“It’s concerning to learn that such a large percentage of UK professionals are continuing to work outside of their contracted hours. 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.

“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.” 

What impact is this having on businesses?

With 65.1% confessing that they think about work outside of office hours, it’s  not surprising that over one in four (29.5%) professionals don’t consider themselves to have a good work-life balance.

But this could be costing business talented workers, with almost half (44.4%) revealing that they have left a job in the past due to poor work-life balance. Biggins offers this advice to employers:

“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. And 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.

“To ensure that staff are taking time to re-charge, ban them from accessing emails and shared drives after work. 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!”

In summary

The always-on culture is clearly having a negative impact on today’s professionals and this is bad news for both parties. It’s important that employers are doing their best to encourage a good work-life balance and looking after the wellbeing of their workforce.