February 5, 2020
Flexible working and an always on culture can be bad for health
Employees believe flexible working allows them to do their best work yet they also feel permanent connectivity is damaging their health, an international survey of more than 1,000 workers has suggested. In the study conducted by Quartz Insights in partnership with Citrix Systems, Inc, respondents ranked flexible working as the third most important factor – behind salary and leadership – enabling them to do their best work. However, two thirds also believed the “always on” mentality has a significant negative impact on their health.
Although today’s employees can connect to the office anywhere, anytime, it doesn’t mean they should, the researchers note. Whereas, in the past, managers could identify employees at risk of burnout simply by seeing who was still at the office late at night, flexible hours and telecommuting have rendered this data incomplete. Managers can glean information from the time stamp of an email or a messaging app showing a person’s status as active, but they can only do so much. Businesses should, the report suggests, choose technology that is easy to use – cited as important by 84 percent of respondents – so employees can avoid wasting time in the first place. Also, they should consider solutions that can organise employees’ day by scheduling work and guiding them, for example by silencing notifications at certain times.
Flexibility unlocks creativity
76% indicated that technology should automate menial tasks so they can focus on the meaningful work they were hired and want to do.
Despite the concerns about their health, 77 percent of those surveyed strongly agreed that greater flexibility with their work schedule would help them innovate and be more creative. A similar proportion (76%) indicated that technology should automate menial tasks so they can focus on the meaningful work they were hired and want to do. On average, respondents reported spending more than four hours a day on “administrative tasks” and “searching for needed information”.
“People don’t want to spend their time submitting purchase orders, filing expenses or searching for information,” Donna Kimmel, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Citrix said. “They want to be creative and innovative and use their special skills to deliver value.”
The survey also asked employees to rate the quality of their workplace technology as good, average or poor, as well as to rate their productivity and ability to complete work effectively. More than 90 percent of those who rated their technology as good also rated their productivity as good. In contrast, of those who said their technology was poor, only 12 percent reported having a good level of productivity.
“A superior employee experience is essential in fuelling critical business goals, from successfully attracting and retaining talent to boosting customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and ultimately revenue,” Kimmel commented. “In creating flexible work environments and providing access to the tools people need and prefer to use to get things done, companies can deliver it and improve engagement, productivity and results.”
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