Technology affecting work-life balance: survey

By Susie Nordqvist

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Many Kiwis find it difficult to 'switch off' when they are away from the office because of the technology they have at their disposal.

A workplace survey by recruitment company Robert Half found almost two thirds of those in the finance and accounting field stayed connected remotely to work while they were on holiday.

Fifteen per cent said they did it because they found it 'impossible' to switch off while on holiday, while 43 per cent claimed it was because technology allowed them to access work information from anywhere in the world.

Robert Half general manager Megan Alexander said workers felt compelled to stay connected to work because the technology they had at their disposal allowed them to do so.

A high proportion of respondents said that filtering through work emails while away from the office meant they were less stressed when they returned to work.

Just 6 per cent of employers said they expected their employees to constantly be available while on annual leave, and 14 per cent expected employees to be available outside of office hours.

Just under half were required to be available only in emergencies.

Not surprisingly, there were higher expectations for senior management to stay connected after hours.

Of those surveyed 37 per cent said they were offered time off in lieu for additional hours of work, 29 per cent received overtime, and 43 per cent said they were not remunerated at all.

Alexander said that work, life balance was vital in an environment that encouraged people to do more, with less time.

Promoting it as part of business culture could lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and better staff retention, she said.

"Blackberries and iPhones have made connecting to work so accessible that for many of us, gone are the days that you stop working when you shut down your office computer.

"Helping employees strike the right balance between their professional obligations and personal life is easier, and less costly than employers might think," Alexander said.

Alexander suggested making allowances for flexible work schedules, avoiding the temptation to contact staff after hours, awarding time off for a job well done, or even harnessing the power of technology to provide opportunities for telecommuting, which can enable staff to work from home a few times each month.

"Bosses need to walk the talk too and know when it's important to step away from the laptop or put down the phone."

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