Always On – the 24/7 life

An Assessment of the Modern 24/7 Working Lifestyle where we’re ‘Always On’

The incredible advances in online and digital technologies over the last decade means that we can now be constantly connected wherever we are. The benefits of this are numerous, however this also makes it very difficult to switch off from work, with Managers expected to check email and respond to questions and crisis at any time of the night or day. Being constantly connected to work in this way makes it impossible to switch off and secure a good work/life balance. This is also leading to increased levels of stress and affecting the mental and physical health of managers whose workload is increased as a result.

A recent report from the Quality of Working Life study by the CMI and Work Psychology Group suggests that digital technology makes it impossible to switch off. The study, which interviewed managers from a wide variety of different industries, found that 61% of managers believe that technology has made it difficult for them to switch off from work. As a result of this, around one in five managers admit to regularly checking their email and other online activities all the time outside of working hours; over half (54%) check frequently. This has a negative impact on their ability to disengage from their workplace and therefore affects their relationships and other aspects of their life.

Is it Time to Switch Off?

The simple solution to this issue seems to be to simply turn off your digital outlets when you aren’t in the workplace; go offline and leave work behind. However it isn’t that easy. Whilst most employers agree that their employees should restrict their out of hours email access, workloads continue to increase and, during times of economic uncertainty, employees (particularly those in management positions) are keen to maintain their workload in order to minimise the risk that they will be let go.

Ironically, not being able to let go and switch off from work entirely can actually reduce your productivity. The same report found that 68% of those who rate themselves as less than 70% productive say technology has made it hard to switch off from work. Both their job satisfaction levels and their productivity are being lowered as a result of their inability to turn off.

Reduce Unnecessary Emails

One of the easiest ways that you can reduce your levels of productivity, and your employees levels of productivity is to reduce unnecessary emails: to disengage from the digital noise. Reviewing communications policies to reduce emails can actually increase productivity as well as make employees happier and better able to enjoy their down time away from the office.

If this seems impossible then you could also restrict remote access to company servers: this will physically prevent your employees from accessing their emails when they are away from the office and force them to break their bad habits.

Switching off isn’t always easy, particularly if the culture and habit of checking email 24/7 is deeply ingrained. However finding a way to reduce your digital engagement with your workplace in your personal time will ultimately make you happier and more productive.