The amorphous reality of work

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Employees and employers are negotiating an increasingly amorphous, and longer, work day, according to the results of a new international survey.

Nearly 75% of employers don’t mind employees arriving at work late, according to the survey, which was conducted on behalf of Mozy Online Backup. “The average boss is willing to turn a blind eye to employees being up to 32 minutes late and let staff spend up to a quarter of the week working from home,” the study found. Interestingly, the majority of employees still think that their bosses prioritise punctuality.

However, in return for this flexibility, employers expect employees to be available at the other end of the day. A vast majority (80%) believe that it is okay to call staff well into the evening.

The employers’ more relaxed attitude to a starting time correlates to the percentage of employers who provide mobile devices that allow staff to work wherever they are, and employees are exploiting these. “Overall, the global results show that the average person starts checking their work email at 7:42am, gets into the office at 8:18am, leaves the office at 5:48pm and stops working fully at 7:19pm,” the Mozy report found.

In return for making themselves more available, employees tend to expect to be able to undertake personal tasks, and to meet social obligations, during the day.

A similar situation has evolved in New Zealand, according to a 2012 March Workmonitor study by Randstad. Results of this study showed that a majority (56%) of employees dealt with work matters while at home and 59% received work-related emails and phone calls outside their regular hours. Almost a third (30%) of employees reported that their employer expects them to be available 24/7.

Dr Rose Ryan, research director – Healthrose, believes that employees have much to benefit from flexible working hours. However, she also noted that new forms of technology do not alter an employer’s obligations. If people suffer harm as a result of long working hours, then employers have a responsibility to deal with that, since it would be considered a hazard under New Zealand’s health and safety legislation.

However, she also said that employees had responsibility for their health. “You have to distinguish between what people are required to do and the whole culture of the workplace – sometimes it’s a question of culture rather than of what is required. People have to take some sort of personal responsibility,” Ryan said.

*** The survey was conducted by research company Vanson Bourne and involved 1000 respondents – 500 employers and 500 employees – in the USA, UK, Ireland, France, and Germany.

 

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