How ‘on’ do you feel you have to be to meet the company’s minimum expectation of you?
That was a question posed in a recent survey completed by PeopleSource.ie. With
over 1,000 responses, a surprising 51% of Irish professionals felt they should be
available 24/7, 24/5, or a minimum of 10 hours per day.
Access to technology means that it is easier for companies and employees to
contact each other outside of working hours. What this survey reveals is that as we
reach full employment in Ireland, half of the workforce are working office hours with
“occasional overtime” while the other half are working a minimum of 50 hours per
Some companies and governments have sought to resolve the conundrum of
‘always on’ employment. In France, companies with more than fifty employees are
required to guarantee workers the ‘right-to-disconnect’ from technology when they
leave work. As far back as 2012, Volkswagen made it company policy to block its
servers from sending emails 30 minutes before and after their working day.
There are other solutions.
Access to technology should allow much more flexible working conditions, so that an
employee can be working while not at their desk. This means they can achieve real
work-life balance as they are contactable but can also be collecting their children
from school or working from home to avoid the daily commute, while waiting for a
delivery and all that goes with that.
Given the range of societal issues that are affected by the perceived requirement to
be at a desk, particularly in urban areas e.g. commuter times in rush-hour, mental
health, stress, cost of housing, quality of life etc. technology should be used to help
alleviate all of these issues, while companies benefit from having happier employees
(reduced staff turnover, healthier way-of-life etc.)
As we near full employment in Ireland, companies can differentiate themselves to
potential staff by addressing this issue innovatively – and maybe, just maybe, help to
alleviate societal issues as well.