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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : August 30, 2016

Working 9-5 becoming a thing of the past?

Is the 9-5 working day a thing of the past? Multiple studies show that, thanks to email and mobile, more people than ever are finding it hard to switch off after business hours.

by Helen Leggatt

Earlier this month, we reported on "work martyrs", defined as those employees who believe that skipping vacation shows their dedication to their job. These workers are worried that, by taking time off, they will be viewed as replaceable, and they feel guilty for taking time out. The research, by Project: Time Off, revealed that work martyrs are overwhelmingly Millennials (43%) compared to just 29% of all workers.

New research, this time from Virginia Tech, has found that even shutting off from work after normal working hours is hard for many, and is leading to "emotional exhaustion" and disrupting the work-family balance.

"Even during the times when there are no actual emails to act upon, the mere norm of availability and the actual anticipation of work create a constant stressor that precludes an employee from work detachment," said William Becker, study co-author and associate professor of management at Virginia Tech. "Such expectations - whether real or imagined - cause more problems, including burnout and work-life balance problems, than the actual time it takes to read and respond to after-hours emails."

In fact, the four-year research project found that it is those who are keenest on keeping their working and family lives separate who are most affected.

Perhaps, suggests a survey from CareerBuilder of more than 3,000 full-time workers across multiple industries, the 9-5 working day will soon be a thing of the past. Almost half (49%) said they check, or answer, emails after work and 45% complete work outside of normal working hours.

Interestingly, and in line with Project: Time Off's research findings, CareerBuilder found that younger workers were more likely to check their emails, or keep working, after business hours.

"While smartphones and other technology allow us to remain connected to the office outside of normal business hours, it may not always be a good thing as workers are having trouble disconnecting from their jobs," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. "Not surprisingly, younger workers 'attached to their mobile devices' are more likely to work and check emails past business hours, while older workers feel less pressure to check-in after they have put in a full day of work."

Tags: email, mobile, research, workplace trends

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