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Blurring work-life communication – are you always on?
We talk about it a lot, but does a “work-life balance” really exist? What does it mean for people – and is it even a remote possibility in our age of hyper-connectivity?
Over the last decade, technology has become an even bigger part of our working lives, with companies regularly giving employees mobile phones, laptops, and occasionally tablets. Many employees in Switzerland also use these connected devices for personal reasons outside of office hours, further blurring the lines between work and free time.
What has this done for our impression of a balanced life?
This blurring of the lines between what constitutes ‘work’ and what makes up ‘free time’ has an impact on happiness. How does this topic make today's working population feel about their professional life – and their private one?
Page Personnel part of PageGroup decided to investigate this phenomenon by conducting a survey in June 2018 of 305 professionals based in Switzerland. The results show significant levels of ‘blurring’between what constitutes their work life and their ‘free time’with most of Switzerland’s professionals using at least one connected work device outside of business hours.
More employees equipped with professionally connected devices
It appears the old saying ‘always on call’ has never been so true. Over 68% of respondents are equipped with at least one device (mobile, laptop, tablet) from their company. When asked about what they use the laptop for, overall 68% said they only use it for professional purposes. Two-thirds of employees give their company laptop only a professional use, while one third also uses it personally. However, the more senior a profile, the more the lines of separation blur with up to 39% of managers saying they would use their device professionally and personally.
Are employees "prisoners" of their devices?
69% of people agree that their work devices have changed their lives, with 42% saying it was a negative change. The data shows that professional life really is encroaching on the personal. Over 63% of people answer their emails and 60% take business calls outside of office hours. Is this really the ‘new normal’ for busy office workers and executives? Why?
Two main ideas point to why employees connect outside of hours – responsibility (60%) and obligation (20%). Interestingly, the split between these two ideas differs when it comes to the hierarchical position, with twice as many managers (83%) feeling obliged compared to 42% of employees.
38% people work during their holidays
Interestingly, 38% of respondents said they would work during their vacation period. Even if this is a simple check of an inbox, or answering a phone call (or two), does this mean that disconnecting from work is a growing challenge in the 21st century?
European and Swiss labour laws are there to protect employees from overworking, stress and burnout, but are they fit for purpose? One route to help both the employer and the employee find that balance is remote working.
Remote working: a good compromise?
Remote working lets employees work outside the office, normally on a voluntary basis, by using the connected devices that the company provides them.
A benefit to remote work for the employee (manager or non-manager) is the increase in control they have over their schedule – meaning that they can balance their workload with their other responsibilities.
Although this practice is widely known, from the study we see that 69% managers currently enjoy this perk more than employees (52.5%).
About the study
Sample: the survey was conducted among a sample of 305 people in Switzerland, including unemployed people, employees, and managers.
Methodology: the representativeness of the sample assured by an adjustment of the data (gender, occupation of the interviewee, proportion of people in a job).
Collection method: the interviews consisted of self-administered questionnaires completed online from June 2018.