Employees using mobile devices to work out of hours
The wider availability of connected smart devices means office workers are finding themselves almost permanently on call, it has been suggested.
Research conducted by staffing provider Modis revealed that the majority of employees with a smartphone or media tablet are using their device for employment purposes outside of normal work hours.
Of the 1,014 office workers surveyed by the firm, 56 per cent now check their emails regularly before work, and 66 per cent do so in the evening after their shift has finished.
Another 60 per cent of employees said they check their emails on the weekend, meaning some people are now conducting work tasks seven days a week.
The main reason for doing so was found to be time pressures, with 36 per cent of staff saying they feel the need to work outside of their contracted hours.
Other said they feel obliged to make themselves available to meet the expectations of senior management (29 per cent), colleagues (29 per cent) and clients (24 per cent).
The results of the study suggest employers could face challenges maintaining employee morale and engagement.
If employees are regularly doing more work than they are paid for, this could lead to disenchantment over time and ultimately cause some people to leave the company.
Modis suggested that for many people, the inability to switch off is adding pressure to already stressful and busy working lives.
Roy Dungworth, managing director of the firm, noted that portable technology “should be a liberator not a shackle for the modern workforce”.
“The ability to work from home when needed is a positive development, giving people greater working flexibility that ought to bring better quality of life,” he stated.
“However, businesses also need to be aware of and manage potentially negative repercussions to ensure employees don’t feel mentally chained to their desks.”
Mr Dungworth said employers have a responsibility to ensure workers know the limits of what is and what is not expected of them.
He added that there is a “big difference” between catching up on a few emails on the bus home and feeling obligated to respond to midnight requests from colleagues or clients.
“IT and HR teams should work together to explain why mobile devices are being made available to employees and set clear guidelines as to exactly what is expected of them in terms of remote working,” Mr Dungworth claimed.