A recent survey from health insurance company BHSF adds to the concerns about people’s ability to turn off when working at home. 92 percent of the 897 survey respondents said they reply to emails outside of their normal working hours. Of these, 44 percent respond to emails out of hours every day, and 82 percent responded to out of hours emails at least once a week.
But it can’t automatically be assumed that this is a bad thing. The act of defining ‘out of hours’ means there is some time designated as ‘work hours’. Whilst this may be true for some jobs, the ideal flexible working scenario is that the hours are chosen by the individual not dictated by the employer.
The borderline between work time and personal time has blurred with the introduction of flexible working. For people working from home it is difficult to draw a line. This is a bonus to people who want to have control over their lives and choose how to get their job done. But it can be a source of stress for people who like to keep work life and home life separate.
Responsible employers should be helping their staff to adapt to new ways of working by giving them advice and training on how to manage their priorities. Trusting employees to manage their own time is a critical element in flexible working. To work properly it should be accompanied by management support to help people to adjust to a new self-managed work experience.