The rise of the 24/7 workplace: research

The rise of the 24/7 workplace: research

Work is increasingly encroaching into our leisure time, according to research published yesterday by Microsoft and Ipsos.

The study of 1027 Australians found 26% of workers use technology to ‘work from anywhere’.

Of the 18-35 year olds surveyed, 39% of them say they don’t mind being contacted by an employer 24/7.

It’s an attitude exemplified by entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan’s recent admission that he emails job applicants at 9pm at night and expects them to reply prior to midnight.

“Some people will respond saying: ‘I can’t do it tonight; I’ll do it tomorrow.’ They are out,” he told Fairfax. “We are looking for people who are constantly on the phone, constantly checking emails and living on the cloud.”

The survey found work and leisure are completely interchangeable – with every spare moment maximized for life admin, work or play. 

Of those surveyed 30% check work emails on devices at home before they leave for work, 23% do work activities while they are socialising with their friends, 44% do work activities after work at home and 38% work on the weekend.

But all that work is not at the expense of our leisure with 53% of those surveyed playing while at work whether it is dipping in and out of gaming, video, online shopping, browsing blogs and social media.

Those aged 18-35 are leading the charge to reinstate some balance in their lives with one in five taking ‘no contact – time-out’ breaks from technology to ‘switch off’.

Head of research and thought leadership at the Australian Institute of Management, Dr Malcolm Johnson, told SmartCompany SME owners need to be conscious of their work/life integration and that of their employees.

“The key thing is an ability to integrate aspects of work and life so that neither is diminished,” he says.

“Understand where the boundaries do merge and be conscious as a manager of the impact on your people.”

Johnson says allowing employees to work from everywhere requires an “honest and adult recognition” that people don’t need to be micro-managed.

Indeed, he says the main danger is that those working from outside the workplace are working too hard.

“The majority of people are so focused on doing a good job that they are personally at risk by trying to prove they are doing a good job because they are out of sight.” 

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