'Always on' culture taking its toll on employees working from home

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

People working from home are finding it hard to keep a healthy work-life balance, with many feeling like they never truly switch off from work.

For many people working traditional 'office jobs', working from home has become the only available route to retain a financial income. And, although some have enjoyed being away from the office environment, the overall sentiment of working from home seems mixed.

Aviva's new 'Embracing the Age of Ambiguity' report examines the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on working culture, from wellbeing and work-life balance to employee-employer relationships.

The report singles out the effect of the pandemic on 'presenteeism' – working for longer than contracted hours or when sick, often due to feelings of job insecurity – which it states has become even more noticeable through an 'always on' culture.

As a consequence, many employees are experiencing a detrimental effect on their long-term wellbeing.

The report shows that, among the 2,000 employees surveyed, 44% feel they never truly switch off from work.

This mindset is felt strongest among 18 to 24-year-olds, of which 63% say that regularly check their emails outside of working hours.

Regarding working when sick, 84% of respondents had taken zero sick days, while 34% continued working while feeling unwell.

Read more: 4 in 10 fit notes in first lockdown were for mental health concerns

More than half of respondents agreed that their physical (58%) and mental (55%) health was being negatively affected by their work, and 43% said they were worried about the impact their work was having on their home life.

Just 13% of employees stated they were 'completely happy' – down from 20% prior to the pandemic.

“The working environment can be a key driver of mental health conditions amongst the working population, so it’s no surprise that the blurring of lines between home and work has contributed towards the increasing numbers reporting mental health issues," said Debbie Bullock, Wellbeing Lead at Aviva.

“Our research suggests the pandemic may have exacerbated the issue. Without the usual bookends of commutes or school runs to help structure the day, many employees find it hard to switch off. Plus, juggling work and home life in the same location has been stressful for many, with employees feeling they are never entirely at work, but never fully away from it either."

To read the full report, click here.

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