UK staff believe they are under-performing unless they are are on call 24 hours a day

David Woods , 05 Apr 2012

Flexible working

A third of UK employees feel that they are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, according to recruiter Randstad’s quarterly Workmonitor.

The global study of 29 countries, 40% of UK employees think that they are underperforming if they do not respond to phone calls and emails straight away, whether in the office or at home.

One in five said that workloads mean they have to respond to messages even during meetings and half reported that they felt they had to deal with work-related matters outside of office hours.

On a global scale, the UK ranks closely alongside its peers. The proportion of employees in Germany, France and the USA that believe they are constantly on call is within five percentage points of that in the UK.

But UK workers appear to feel the most pressure to respond. 94% of British workers who receive messages from work out of office hours also deal with other work-related matters in their private time. This is much higher than the 83% of US workers, or 86%of French workers, who do the same.

Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad UK and Middle East, said: "UK employees are being hit hard by increasing workloads as teams operate more leanly in the economic downturn and digital technology makes them constantly available.

"Fielding phone and email messages in business meetings was previously considered the height of rudeness; now it is common practice. Our research indicates the increased pressure to process emails immediately, wherever employees are.

"Organisations face a challenge to ensure that their workforces remain motivated and do not suffer from information overload. There is a real danger that spread thin Britain could well turn into burn out Britain."

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Always on IT

Paul Allsopp, The Agile Organisation 11 Apr 2012

Technology and the spread of agile working means it is easier than ever to work remotely, but it also makes it extremely hard to switch off. Uncertain economic times also mean that many UK employees are keeping one eye on their job at all times, when what they really need is time to rest and re-energise. Research from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) reveals that over one-third work while on annual leave, while 40% return to work feeling more stressed than when they left. Individuals and companies need to manage communication and information flow to take account of this always on culture which will eventual damage individual productivity and performance levels.

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