We can all find it difficult to turn off from technology. Work emails being accessible on our phones has blurred the lines between our work and social lives.
With a recent survey suggesting that UK workers are going into the office an average of 1.5 days a week, home-working has also contributed to the flexibility of working patterns and the ease to deal with work matters outside of working hours.
This means that staff need to deal with their workload in different ways. Employers can help their workforce by either setting a clear working time strategy, or by providing flexibility so that staff can deal with their workload in a way which best suits them. By doing this, each individual worker will feel they are working as effectively as they can and can therefore drive more opportunities for growth within the business.
Some companies worried about these blurred lines have taken steps to stop employees from working outside work hours. For instance, Volkswagen has previously set up systems so that emails can only be sent to employees’ phones from half an hour before the working day starts and for half an hour after it ends, and never at weekends. Lidl in Belgium has also banned internal emails between 6pm and 7am to help staff switch off.
However, this method of trying to protect your employees can potentially cause them more harm than good. Research by the University of Sussex suggests that a blanket ban might help some staff to switch off but might result in other employees not achieving their goals and causing stress.
What’s the best thing employers can do?
A better plan might be to allow people to deal with email in a way which suits their personalities and allows them to feel like they are managing their workload. Some people might appreciate, or need, flexible working patterns that necessitate some work outside normal hours.
The key for employers is to ensure they have a policy that sets out clear parameters for working outside normal hours. Employees need to know that it is a genuine choice, rather than a compulsion.
This is a win-win situation for everyone. By being flexible to the needs and interests of your workforce, you are allowing your staff to be more in control of their choices regarding work times and therefore aiding their welfare, allowing them to focus on their role to the best of their ability.
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