Does a good balance of home and work life exist in modern Britain?

work life balanceNowadays more and more people are working from home, whether it’s full time (around 4 million of us in the UK alone), part time or the occasional evening spent catching up on work missed because we had to attend the kids school sports day.

As working remotely becomes increasingly easy, with the growth of mobile technology and 24/7 access to work emails, it’s often hard to resist the temptation to check those emails after hours.

Life is not just about work

There is a growing awareness of the dangers of not respecting a healthy work/life balance. A good balance leads to an engaged worker, who is more productive and happy with their work. Disregarding the balance can eventually lead to decreased productivity and potentially ‘burnout’. A lack of balance can also lead to a disfunctional life at home. Working late every day and over the weekend is unfair on yourself and your family. But are we, the British public, listening?

A study by technology retailer Pixmania, revealed that the average UK working day is between nine and ten hours, but a further two hours is spent responding to or sending work emails, or making work calls. It also found that…

  • More than 90 per cent of office workers have an email-enabled phone, with a third accessing them more than 20 times a day.
  • Almost one in ten admits spending up to three hours outside their normal working day checking work emails, and even those without a smartphone check emails on their home computer.
  • An extra 460 hours a year being worked using mobile devices.
  • The average time for first checking emails is between 6am and 7am, with more than a third checking their first email in this period, and a quarter checking them between 11pm and midnight.

In the current climate, particularly with companies making redundancies, overstretched employees often simply don’t have enough time in the day and find themselves having to work when they get home. But could this eventually impact their performance?

Balance is in the interests of employers as well as employees

A good work-life balance improves morale, motivation and productivity.

Vodaphone conducted a survey following the Olympics last year and found that 24% said they had changed their normal working arrangements over the period, either working from home or another location, to avoid the expected travel restrictions. Productivity had increased as a result, they said, principally because of the time saved not having to commute.

Recognising remote workers

staff recognition helps balanceThe same survey found that most employers already offer flexible working arrangements or are now more open to the idea. However employers need to do their part in ensuring that those individuals who regularly work from home are recognised for their efforts in equal measure to their office-based counterparts. They may feel isolated and unappreciated given all the extra hours they put in. By utilising formalised reward and recognition processes employers can give ALL employees the recognition they deserve using a medium that‘s right for them.

Online recognition portals allow peers to recognise one another at the touch of a button, and that recognition can be shared across an entire organisation. These sort of programmes are ideal for home workers as they ensure that the spotlight regularly falls on their latest piece of work. It is not only up in lights for colleagues to see but also a showcase for senior management.

How’s your balance these days?

Can you actually switch off at 5.30pm or do you find yourself frequently checking your emails, or quickly updating a report? Do you feel like you NEED to continue from home after the working day is done?

Although this is something that can’t be changed overnight, employers need to ensure that recognising colleagues, whether they work from home or not, is a daily occurrence. It creates an engaged workforce, that delivers better results, no matter where they are based.

 

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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