Companies respond to Aussie worker mobility fatigue: Survey

Companies urged to put in place 'switch off' policies to avoid HR issues

Some office staff members in Australia are seeking to reclaim normal working hours by turning off devices and not checking work emails at home, according to a survey conducted by NorthgateArinso.

The Work-life Balance study, which was conducted for the second time this year, found that 38 per cent of 504 Australians surveyed checked work emails at home versus 46 per cent last year. Thirty-seven per cent of respondents think technology enables them to work from home compared with 52 per cent of respondents in 2011, and 24 per cent of respondents made work calls from home compared with 36 per cent the year before.

Smartphones with email access remained the most commonly used work-related technology year-on-year (42 per cent in 2012 and 44 per cent last year).

There were mixed feelings about work-life balance. Sixty two per cent felt technology enabled them to manage their work-life balance more effectively in comparison to 73 per cent in 2011.

NorthgateArinso Australia and New Zealand managing director, David Page, said companies were starting to respond to what he called “online fatigue”.

For example, the survey found that fewer workers cited work as intruding on their personal life this year (39 per cent) versus 2011’s result (52 per cent).

“There are a small but increasing number of bosses who recognise the online fatigue from being always available as a growing human resources [HR] issue,” Page said in a statement. “The ongoing blurring of home and work life, driven by communications technology, has been tacitly condoned for some time. Its downsides for workers’ health and wellbeing are emerging as significant concerns.”

He added that some companies were putting in place turn off policies for their workers outside work hours. Volkswagen Europe is an example of having introduced a ‘switch off’ policy for BlackBerry email.

Page also provided a list of 10 signs that indicate if someone is addicted to work.

  • You check your smartphone for emails as one of the last things you do before going to sleep, and one of the first when you wake up.

  • Your first conversation of the day is via Twitter.

  • You feel the need to take your laptop, iPad or smartphone on holiday, just in case work needs you.

  • You feel obligated to respond to work emails outside of work hours, especially those from international colleagues in other time zones.

  • You expect your work colleagues to answer emails out of business hours, because that’s what you do.

  • You turn your smartphone to vibrate--never off--so that you can check messages when you should be relaxing.

  • Your iPad is used mainly for reading work-related articles late at night.

  • You’ve not had a face-to-face discussion with any of your contacts on LinkedIn for months.

  • Your work contacts on Facebook and Skype outnumber your friends and family contacts.

  • You’re the FourSquare mayor of your office.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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