Work sweet work: the double-edged sword of increased connectivity
Technological advancements have obviously had a huge impact on how we live our lives, and this is particularly true of our work lives. In generations past, there were clear boundaries between home and work life, however this is no longer the case. The enhanced connectivity that technology provides means that these boundaries between home and work are becoming blurred, making it much easier for people to remain electronically connected to the office during non-work hours. On paper, this increased flexibility should be beneficial to employers and employees alike, however research suggests that this is not the case.
Studies have shown that this increased connectivity to the workplace is actually a source of anxiety for the majority of employees. Findings also suggest that even when employees do not actually spend time working at home, the mere idea that they need to stay connected can be detrimental. In many cases, this “always on” culture is implicit and becomes an unspoken expectation from the top down. The impact of such a culture is rarely considered by employers, and in fact is often disguised as an advantage in the form of flexible working or increased convenience.
Workplace cultures that expect employees to be virtually accessible 24/7 do so at great risk. Anxiety causes burnout and can lead to serious health problems for employees. Health problems lower productivity over time, resulting in distraction on the job and absenteeism. Trying to engage burned out, overworked and ill workers is a formidable task.
Employers that don’t give their workers any right to disconnect from the office may want to seriously consider the consequences of such a policy — and may need to look into an overhaul in their culture to keep workers from feeling as though their jobs are jeopardised if they’re not accessible 24/7.
From our experience as specialist Facilities Management recruiters, it seems to us that this flexible, “always on” culture is quite prevalent in the FM sector, with both employer and employee expecting some level of working from home or out-of-hours work as part of their position. How do you feel about this growing trend? Please take a couple of minutes to answer the questions below: