According to a new report from Eurofound, the rise in telework and more flexible working patterns, speeded up by the pandemic, has 'intensified concerns' about an 'always on' culture and employees' constant connection to their workplace, leading them to work additional and often unpaid hours.
Why it matters: The report highlights the negative impact of an 'always on' culture on employees' work-life balance, health, and overall workplace satisfaction.
By the numbers: Close to one fifth of the survey respondents reported working additional hours because they are contacted outside of working hours.
The big picture: The report explores the need for a right to disconnect policy to address the issue of employees working excessive hours due to constant connection to their workplace.
Yes, but: Workers in companies without a right to disconnect policy reported experiencing more health issues compared to those in companies with such a policy.
What's next: The report suggests implementing a range of accompanying measures, such as awareness raising, training, and effective measures to limit out-of-hours connection, to address the issue of constant connection in the workplace.
Download the full Eurofound report: https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/en/publications/2023/right-disconnect-implementation-and-impact-company-level
Main survey findings:
- That workers who regularly work remotely using information and communication technologies are more likely to work longer than is contractually required. Close to one fifth of the survey respondents reported working additional hours because they are contacted outside of working hours.
- Eight out of ten workers surveyed in both companies with and without a right to disconnect policy reported that they regularly receive work-related communications outside their working hours.
- Findings show several differences between workers in companies with a right to disconnect policy and those without. A larger share of workers in companies without a right to disconnect policy said they experienced health issues such as frequent headaches, stress and anxiety. In companies with a right to disconnect policy, very high levels of job satisfaction are reported by twice as many workers and they also report a better work–life balance (92%, compared to 80%).
- Over 70% of workers in companies with a right to disconnect policy considered its impact to be positive; however, the introduction of a policy on its own is insufficient and requires a range of accompanying measures such as awareness raising on the risks of constant connection, training for workers and managers and assessments of the reasons for over-connection, effective measures to limit out-of-hours connection, as well as monitoring systems where results and solutions are discussed regularly between management and worker representatives.
- A match between working time and workload is crucial. The new survey findings demonstrate that 37% of workers work additional hours to complete tasks they were unable to do during working hours.