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The nation’s workforce goes AWOL – with three in ten Brits ‘always working on leave’, a study revealed yesterday.
Researchers found millions of employees regularly check emails, read documents and listen to their voicemail whether they have one day off work or if it’s their two week summer break.
They also make telephone calls, text colleagues and even drop into the office to catch up on ‘anything they may have missed’.
The majority said they can’t go more than four hours without seeing what workload will greet them on their return to their desk.
But three in ten said being contactable and even working is ‘expected of them’ which leaves a third worried about turning their mobile phone off in case they’re needed.
Yesterday, Peter Kelly, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK, which carried out the research of 2,000 Brits, said:
“For many people in the UK, the way we work is changing. Flexibility means the days of sitting at a desk from nine to five could be numbered. Businesses and their employees both benefit from this flexibility, but the new challenge is to find real work life rhythm and quality time to switch off.
“The findings appear to reflect a shift towards a new way of working – if someone feels they can relax more knowing they’ve had a quick scan of their email in the morning, who’s to say they shouldn’t do so? However, there’s a cultural shift that needs to go hand-in-hand with the ‘on-demand’ mindset. Just because an employee has the technology to keep them connected doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to a complete break.
“The ability to be customer-focused and responsive gives UK business a competitive edge and finding ways to effectively manage today’s bombardment of electronic communications should be high on the list of priorities for UK bosses. “
The study quizzed 2,000 Brits in full-time employment on their working habits when taking as little as one day off work or jetting off on their summer holiday.
It found three in ten find themselves working when on holiday, and dedicate at least an hour each day to various tasks, while one in ten knuckle down for three hours or more.
Checking emails (70 per cent), reading work documents (52 per cent), answering calls (46 per cent) and making calls (35 per cent) emerged as the most popular pastimes.
Yet a third of employees have even checked in at the office when on leave – with 43 per cent saying they like to know what they’re going back to, 27 per cent said it’s expected of them and 42 per cent want to know if there have been any problems.
More than one in ten (12 per cent) said it’s harder to get back into the swing of things if they don’t check in every day or so.
The survey found a quarter feel obliged to check emails on their day off, while half said they should answer calls or reply to voice messages.
But that leaves 27 per cent who feel like they are always working wherever they are, and the same number said they feel anxious when away from their desk because they ‘need to know what’s going on’.
One in six said they can’t go longer than half an hour without picking up their mobile to see what they’ve missed, yet 62 per cent said they felt ‘relieved’ when they finally decide to switch it off and put it to one side.
Three in ten said their boss expects them to be contactable when on holiday.
But Brits’ being unable to leave work behind them has landed a fifth in hot water with their partner, with three in ten falling out.
Another third are left to feel guilty if they end up working when they should be spending time with their kids.
One in six have lied to their partner about answering a work-related call.
And it’s no surprise when one in twenty have taken a call while on a lilo and a quarter have done so while sunning themselves on a beach.
The new challenge is to find real work life rhythm and quality time to switch offPeter Kelly, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK