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