Third of workers ‘can’t switch off due to remote access’

text messaging, phone, email, technology


Almost a third of British workers feel that having remote access to the workplace means they can’t switch off in their personal time, according to a new survey.

The latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report which is based on a survey of over 2,000 UK employees, found that workers are divided on whether remote access to the workplace is a positive or negative development.

Two-fifths of UK workers (40%) admit to actively checking their work mobile or emails at least five times a day outside of working hours. Nearly a fifth (18%) feel as though they are under surveillance with remote access to work, and 17% say it makes them feel anxious or even impacts their quality of sleep.

However, almost a third (30%) of employees say they feel empowered by having remote access to the workplace.

More than half of employees say it helps them to work flexibly and more than a third say it makes them more productive.

Claire McCartney, Associate Research Adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says: “A lack of clarity and guidance for employees around remote working can cultivate an environment where some employees feel unable to physically or mentally switch off. This can have adverse effects on employee well-being and their engagement with the organisation, as well as their productivity at work. Employers therefore need to have a clear approach to remote working as well as create a wider enabling culture, where employees feel trusted and empowered to take ownership of their work, but also able to speak out if they are struggling.

“HR plays a critical role in creating and influencing these cultures of trust, by engaging with employees and challenging some of the problem areas that exist.”

The survey found that private sector employees are more likely to say that they can always switch off from work compared to those in the public and voluntary sectors. Those in the public sector are also almost twice as likely to check their work mobile or emails at least five times a day outside of working hours than those in the voluntary and private sectors.

The survey also shows a third of employees believe their organisation has been impacted by the wider political changes in the UK and the US after the vote to leave the EU, with around a fifth believing that the vote to leave the EU has led to a decrease in morale among colleagues and an increase in stress. Ten per cent have experienced, witnessed or heard about incidences of racist harassment or bullying at work following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

The survey also shows a rise in job satisfaction, that almost a quarter think their organisation doesn’t allow them opportunities to learn and grow and that almost a quarter of employees are worried that parts (18%) or all of their jobs (5%) will be automated in the future.

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