1 May 2012
Australian office workers appear to be cooling to being ‘always available’ for work via communications technology. This is a finding from a new work-life balance survey by NorthgateArinso (NGA), the leading global provider of HR systems and services.
It’s the second survey on work-life balance undertaken by NorthgateArinso; the first was in May last year. Similar questions and sampling processes were maintained to allow comparisons from one survey to the next.
Key findings for this current survey are:-
- Fewer workers think that technology enables them to work from home this year (37%) versus last (52%)
- Fewer workers this year (62%) feel that technology enables them to manage their work-life balance more effectively versus last year (73%)
- Fewer workers make work related calls from home this year (24%) than last (36%)
- Fewer workers check emails at home this year (38%) versus last (46%)
- Workers agree that technology is playing less of an integral in their day-to-day work role now (78%) versus last year (94%)
- ‘Flexible work hours’ is the most highly regarded employee benefit with almost half rating this as their number one; this is significantly higher than the next two benefits (doona days and work from home days)
- The top five benefits are non-technology related
- Smartphones with email access remain the most commonly used work-related technology used year on year (42% this year and 44% last year)
- Almost four in ten access work emails from their mobile phone: this is consistent year on year
- Fewer companies are providing employees with laptops dropping from 35% last year to 24% this year
- Instant messaging (e.g. iChat, Messenger), Skype and video conferencing are being used less by companies while use of social networks like the company Facebook or LinkedIn remains relatively constant at 28% last year and 24% this year
‘Online fatigue’ a sign of the times
Australia and New Zealand Managing Director at NorthgateArinso, Mr David Page, drew attention to the finding that fewer workers also feel that work is intruding this year (39%) versus last (52%).
“I’d like to think this drop might in part be due to companies starting to change culturally,” he said.
“There are small, but increasing, number of bosses who recognise the ‘online fatigue’ from being ‘always available’ as a growing HR issue. The on-going blurring of home and working life driven by communications technology has been tacitly condoned for some time. Its downsides for workers’ health and well-being are emerging as significant concerns.”
Turn off policies: No Blackberry email after hours
“Some businesses are taking action. For example, they’re putting in place ‘turn off’ policies with their workers outside work time. Volkswagen in Europe has turned off Blackberry email after hours. Other firms are implementing similar email amnesties.
“Steps like this underline to employees that the business takes this 24/7 demand on their attention seriously,” Page concluded.
The second wave of the NorthgateArinso Work-life Balance study was conducted via an online study between the 3rd and 9th of February 2012. The sample comprised 504 adult Australians aged 18-64 working full or part-time. Data were weighted to match the profile of the first wave of the study by age, sex, location and working status.
The recent survey was conducted online by Catalyst Research the first wave of research, also conducted online, was undertaken by research group Pure Profile in May 2011.
Ten symptoms that prove work technology is intruding too much into your home life
- You check your smartphone for emails as one of the last things you do before going to sleep, and one of the first when you wake up (your first conversation of the day is via Twitter).
- You feel the need to take your laptop or iPad and/or smartphone on holidays, just in case work needs you
- You feel obligated to respond to work emails outside of work hours, especially those from international colleagues in other time zones
- You expect your work colleagues to answer emails out of business hours, because that’s what you do
- You turn your smart phone to vibrate – never off – so you can check messages on the quiet when you really should be ‘off duty’ like at the cinema or out with the family
- Your iPad is used mainly for reading work-related articles late at night
- You’ve not had a face-to-face discussion with any of your 500+ contacts on LinkedIn for months
- Your work contacts on Facebook and Skype outnumber your friends and family
- More people wish you happy birthday on Facebook/Twitter than in person
- And sadly …you’re the FourSquare mayor of your office.
- NGA is a leading global Human Resources software and services provider offering innovative HR business solutions to employers of all sizes, including global Fortune 500 companies and many public sector organisations.
- NGA helps HR executives optimize their HR service delivery through smarter processes and more efficient technology, supporting key HR areas like workforce administration, payroll, benefits, recruitment, learning, and talent management.
- NGA’s 8,500 employees in 35 countries are dedicated to delivering HR excellence through HR consulting, HR outsourcing and HR technology.
- Recently, IDC named NGA a leader in comprehensive HR BPO. Everest Research positioned NGA as a global market star performer in its Human Resources Outsourcing Annual Report 2011.
Additional information can be found at:
For further information/comment in Australia and New Zealand:
Violet Bedelis: Marketing Manager NorthgateArinso + 61 3 9868 1326 or + 61 418 303 282
David Park: Edelman Public Relations + 61 418 159 231