Wa­ter­cooler

Con­nec­tiv­ity means un­paid work has be­come a fact life for most pro­fes­sion­als

The Australian - The Deal - - First Up - Story by: Ver­ity Ed­wards

Con­nec­tiv­ity means more of us are do­ing un­paid work, but can you switch off?

DO you work from 9am to 5pm, Mon­day to Fri­day, or leave your phone at work and don’t an­swer emails or mes­sages at lunch, after hours or on week­ends? If you are one of the le­gion that does not watch the clock, does your em­ployer ap­pre­ci­ate your un­paid ef­forts?

Most white-col­lar pro­fes­sion­als work ex­ces­sive un­paid over­time with­out recog­ni­tion, even if it means an­swer­ing an email at home while sit­ting on the lounge at night, try­ing to switch off.

Mor­gan McKin­ley’s work­ing hours survey, re­leased last month, found 91 per cent of Aus­tralian pro­fes­sion­als work more than their con­tracted hours, and 92 per cent of work­ers found it had an im­pact on their per­sonal lives. The statis­tics are stag­ger­ing. Mac­quarie Univer­sity cal­cu­lated that ex­tra time, and found Aus­tralians con­trib­ute more than 700 mil­lion hours of un­paid work a year. That is a lot of time work­ing on re­ports, projects, emails and phone calls at night, on week­ends and days off.

We live in a time of con­stant con­nec­tiv­ity through mo­bile de­vices. We tweet, check Face­book, have work emails on phones and check them con­stantly. Self-pro­claimed pro­duc­tiv­ity ninja Gra­ham All­cott last year car­ried out a se­ries of monthly ex­per­i­ments. He only an­swered emails on cer­tain days of the week, switched off tech­nol­ogy after hours and dis­con­nected for a month while on hol­i­days. He recharged with­out think­ing of work. He also found work­ers were more ef­fec­tive when switched on only at work. Work­ing from 9am to 5pm in a struc­tured of­fice may be go­ing the way of the di­nosaur, but there is a lot to be said for switch­ing off the com­puter and walk­ing out at night.

Work­place flex­i­bil­ity is all the rage – peo­ple want flex­i­ble hours and to work from home – but are em­ploy­ers also tak­ing ad­van­tage of staff feel­ing pres­sured to re­spond around the clock? Cran­field Univer­sity in Bri­tain found flex­i­ble work sched­ules were linked to in­creased work in­ten­sity, higher pro­duc­tiv­ity and longer hours, which of­ten led to fam­ily strain and in­creased stress.

It takes willpower to ease back and ig­nore emails and calls. But time off should be val­ued and can en­able peo­ple to recharge, re­sult­ing in bet­ter per­for­mance.

Ver­ity Ed­wards is Ed­i­tor, Week­end Pro­fes­sional.

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