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Over half of Aussies working digitally after hours, study finds
Fri, 29th Mar 2024

Recent research carried out by people2people Recruitment has exposed some alarming trends regarding the effect of digital demands on employees' work-life balance. Quite disconcertingly, over half (56%) of the respondents expressed that their employers expected them to check emails and work apps outside of regular working hours.

Of those who noticed this expectation, an eye-opening 77% suggested that their employers implied rather than directly communicated this expectation. The study also disclosed distressing information concerning the amount of work-related interaction on digital platforms during work and personal hours.

A mere 30% of those surveyed disclosed that they did not spend any time on work-related digital platforms outside of work. The remaining 70%, however, confessed to varying degrees of engagement. Shockingly, one quarter (25%) stated that they spend over five hours per week tending to work emails and apps on their time outside of work.

Catherine Kennedy, the NSW Managing Director of people2people Recruitment, voiced her views on these findings. She said, "These findings underscore the need for greater awareness and action surrounding the issue of digital boundaries in the workplace. With the new right to disconnect legislation coming into place, employers are set to be faced with an added layer of difficulty when it comes to managing employees who request flexible work hours."

Ms Kennedy continued, "While advancements in technology have undoubtedly improved productivity and connectivity, they have also blurred the lines between work and personal life, leading to potential burnout and decreased well-being among employees."

Ms Kennedy offered several recommendations to help businesses navigate the crossroads of digital connectivity and work-life balance. To begin with, she advised that employers establish clear rules concerning digital availability outside work hours. This can be accomplished by discussing expectations with employees and including the appropriate time to respond to emails or messages outside of typical work hours.

Furthermore, she urged organisations to foster a culture that values downtime and encourages workers to disconnect from work-related communications during evenings, weekends, and holidays. Additionally, she suggested that employers set a good example by respecting employees' personal time and refraining from sending non-essential communication outside of work hours.

If employees are found to be engaged in work activities outside of designated work hours, she recommends that this be probed as to why this is happening. She proposed measures to prevent such situations in the future. To address potential burnout, organisations should create a safe place for employees to express their concerns and look for mutually beneficial resolutions.

Lastly, she mentioned that employers should utilise technology and tools that will allow employees to manage their digital workflow more efficiently. These can range from email scheduling tools, sleep mode, switch-off notifications, and automated replies, which may provide various solutions that help employees separate work and home life.