The majority of working mums consider the ability to access email outside office hours a curse, according to a Workingmums.co.uk poll.
Some 60% of working mums said accessing emails after work hours was bad news, while 29% said it was a boon and 11% hovered in the middle.
Survey after survey has shown growing numbers of workers are now accessing emails at all times of the day as technology enables them to do so. For parents this has made it more possible to work around family life, leaving work on time rather than staying late and then logging on after the children are in bed. This has led to a blurring of the lines between work and family life.
In Digital State: How the Internet is Changing Everything, published on Sunday, digital evangelist Christopher Lockwood warns of the impact of information overload on people’s mental health. He says: “How many people think they should go on a technology data diet? We all should! We need to monitor our digital diet daily if we are to control our digital addictions. Technology has broken down geographic borders as well as the distinction between work, life, home & play.”
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He continues: “The deal we’ve done with the digital devil to enjoy all the wonders we now have in our hands is to never be offline. There’s an exponential pressure to achieve – to be faster and stronger. We’re all chasing a dream – we’re ambitious and less satisfied so people are scared to turn off because they’re frightened of missing something and being away from the action. There will be mental breakdowns brought on by this data explosion. We might be reluctant to switch off but the damage we’re doing to ourselves means we’re soon going to have to compulsorily! In the future, they’re going to be amazed we didn’t see this epidemic coming.”
One woman who took part in the Workingmums poll commented: “It’s hard – being able to check emails from home makes employers happier to support you when you have no alternative childcare and your child has chicken pox… but generally it means it eats into time they’re not paying for – my salary sounds great until you factor in the additional emails etc at home and then it drops significantly…”
Another mum said: “Employers expect too much. Your time should be yours not the company’s, especially once you’re home.”
But another said it depends on the level of responsibility the person has in their job. “If you are responsible person/ or head of the department sometimes you need to be alert to the things which are a priority and which might require immediate action,” she stated.
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