We’ve got so much to thank technology for. Remember the days before smartphones, when making a call outside your home meant finding a phone box? Or when looking up a fact meant taking a trip to your local library? Now we have the world at our fingertips; we can can communicate across the globe at any time and have access to every piece of information under the sun in an instant. But all that efficiency and ease comes at a cost. And we’re paying for it with our downtime.
According to a recent Microsoft study, 47% of people have worked while they were on holiday. And another survey showed that 54% of people have a boss who expects them to work while they’re on holiday.
It’s not just our annual getaways that are being affected. It’s as though we’re never off duty. And the boundary between work time and home time is becoming increasingly blurred. Thanks to the incursion of technology in our homes, we can answer emails and pick up calls at any time – clocking off at 5pm is a thing of the past.
And just what impact does the creep of work into our personal lives actually have? Unsurprisingly, the news isn’t good. And workers who lack a healthy work/life balance are at risk of a variety of problems. People who never disconnect might find it difficult to get to sleep at night. They’re more likely to take more sick days. Or burn out altogether. It also takes its toll on our families and relationships.
So why do we do it and how do we break the cycle? Studies have shown that people are reluctant to switch off their devices when they get home, for fear of appearing uncommitted. Bosses and managers could help, by not contacting their employees out of hours. They could focus on creating a work culture that encourages employees to turn off their devices in their downtime.
In the meantime, you know where the off button is.