It’s a pretty common scenario for a lot of workers in the United States, Great Britain and Australia: it’s 8:30 p.m., just after dinner time, and a worker checks his or her email and sends out a couple of replies then does other tasks that should just be completed at the office the next morning.
Due to technological advancements, constant connectivity, mobile devices and perhaps even fear of losing a job in this difficult economy, an overwhelming majority of the workforce in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia is blurring the line between work and personal time. Although it is rare that employees keep track of how much work they do at home, the question that must be asked is: just how much do people work when not at work?
This question has been attempted to be answered in a new survey by Jive Software Inc., which sought the statistics from more than 5,000 adults in the three countries. The results suggest that more than 90 percent of workers in the U.S. and Australia and 88 percent of workers in Britain report working during non-business hours.
A significant number of workers are pulling in an additional 10 hours of work each week for their respective companies in their personal time: 37 percent in the U.S., 27 percent in Australia and 18 percent in Britain – 11 percent are working between seven and 10 hours each week during their “off” time, which is equivalent to an entire work day.
The online survey found that most of these workers are conducting their work duties through their electronic devices, a primary cause for these extra hours. Half of Australian workers and close to two-thirds of American workers use their personal smartphone or tablet for work-related assignments, while only a third of British workers said they do the same thing.
Furthermore, the study found more troubling statistics that could be one of the culprits for deteriorating health among the nations’ workforce. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said if they had 10 or more hours each week they would spend it with their friends and family, nearly half (43 percent) said they would spend more time exercising.
Instead, workers are logging on, even when they’re on vacation. Roughly half of workers in the U.S. and Australia reported performing work-related tasks while on vacation – only 34 percent of Britons reported doing the same thing. Fourteen percent of workers do not take any vacations at all.
"Employees around the globe are spending far too much time on unproductive work: sitting through unnecessary meetings, wading through endless email, and constantly searching for long-lost documents—leading to more people doing their actual jobs on off hours," said Nathan Rawlins, vice president of product marketing at Jive. "Fortunately, with social collaboration, businesses can transform the way people work, ensuring employees can be more productive at the office, while giving them time back for a balanced life. The result: more productive, happier employees."
Not taking the necessary time to recuperate has proven to be bad for your health. Health experts are urging the labor force to improve the work-life balance by implementing a few methods, which could bring the best balance possible in daily lifestyles.
Some of the tips include creating downtime into your schedule, an exercise regimen, relaxation and potentially outsourcing household chores. “Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you," psychologist Robert Brooks, Ph.D., told WebMD. "Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on your hobby of carpentry, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once a year."
The online survey was performed by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Jive Software. It was conducted with 2,034 U.S. adults between Jul. 16 and 18, 2,010 British adults between Jul. 16 and 22 and 1,026 Australian adults in the same time period. No sampling error can be calculated.