Does flexible working mean we’re unable to escape the office?

flexible office working

Despite the rise in flexible working contracts, and the benefits its recognised to having on employee wellbeing and mental health, the vast majority of professional workers in the UK (91 per cent) are continuing beyond their contracted hours on a weekly basis. With as many as 17 per cent of workers now doing 10 hours or more in overtime each week. 

Along with routinely working overtime, almost half of UK employees (43 per cent) do not leave the office or take a break from their workplace during lunch; despite only 10 per cent receiving any form of compensation for the lost time. 

The findings come from Morgan McKinley’s recent Working Hours and Flexibility report, which surveyed 1,500 UK workers employed in the professional services, banking and financial services, or commerce and industry. 

Delving into the reasons behind this behaviour, Morgan McKinley found that 62 per cent of respondents feel that having mobile devices causes them to work more – routinely checking emails out of outside of office hours, working while commuting, and checking in during the evening.

Commenting on the findings of the study, David Leithead, chief operations officer, Morgan McKinley UK, commented: “The way in which we all work has changed dramatically. Employees have increased access to flexible working but end up working a greater number of hours every week. It is becoming a widespread dilemma. 

“Employees often don’t take any kind of lunch break but feel obligated to work beyond their contracted hours. When they finally leave the office, they feel they should be available on mobile devices. This feeling of ‘not being able to down tools’ can negatively affect an employee’s wellbeing, causing mental burnout.”

However, despite the negative impact of being able – and being expected – to be constantly online, 78 per cent of respondents still believe that flexible working has had a positive impact on their company’s performance and profitability. And still feel that flexible hours are beneficial for the employees with improved staff wellbeing.

Continuing, David Leithead added: “Businesses need to ensure they overcome the hurdle of engaging the remote proportion of their workforce and closely monitor whether they are working excessive hours.”

“Strategies have to be put in place that are aimed at both employees and their management in order to harness the benefits of flexible working patterns”, he added. 

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