40% of people check work emails five times a day outside office hours

Email on phones

Almost a third of people say that remote work access means they can never fully switch off. Forty per cent of people check their work emails at least five times a day outside of working hours. Does this have an impact on work life balance?

A new study of over 2000 UK employees by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) found that many feel a ‘switched on’ working culture is not always a good thing.

The study found that almost a fifth of employees feel like they are under surveillance while working remotely and 17 per cent said it made them feel anxious or impacted their sleep quality.

Some positives came out of the study, 30 per cent of employees asked said that remote access made them feel empowered and 37 per cent said it made them more productive.

Dr. Christine Grant, principal lecturer in Occupational Psychology at Coventry University said “lack of time to rest and having trouble with sleep are the most concerning aspect of these findings – that has a hugely detrimental impact on well-being.”

“The other danger is that, while they feel like they are under surveillance, remote workers can essentially become invisible to their employer. They can be over-worked, becoming stressed and burnt out but nobody would know.”

The survey also found that private sector employees are more likely to say that they can always switch off from work (47%), compared to those in the public (35%) and voluntary sectors (29%). Those in the public sector are also almost twice as likely to check their work mobile or emails at least 5 times a day outside of working hours (32%), than those in the voluntary (17%) and private sectors (23%).

In the rapidly changing workplace – flexible working can be a double-edged sword. The key is creating solutions that allow staff to work remotely and stay connected whilst not becoming an intrusion on personal lives.