By Sally Wu
Putting too many hours at work is a dangerous way to earn a living. New research finds that in many countries people we work an average of 47 hours a week. In some developing countries, employees feel if they have to earn a decent living, they would ideally need to be at work in the equivalent of six days per week – 68 hours or more.
So what can we do to achieve a healthy lifestyle for employers and employees? Workplace research has found out that:
• Most workers believe that a workday should be no more than six hours long.
• Although four in 10 respondents believe a person should not check their personal emails or messages during work, 6 believe they should be allowed to.
• About 35% of workers experience a conflict between when they are supposed to be working and when they are supposed to be on holiday, when employers can call them to fill in for someone who has urgently fallen ill.
Businesses need to get on board and make it easy for employees to say when they are available to work.
A flexi-working day is a great way. If your workers are encouraged to be available for work, they should be paid for keeping their work phones on, even during their off days.
New technology can help staff to work from home or at another time of day and on their own schedule.
Businesses can also encourage them to take two full days per week off so they can switch off, but then return to the job the following day without a stress hangover. If they are to be called in to fill in for someone, they should be paid extra (1.5x-2x) to have compensated for their off days.
Despite work-life balance being a factor for most workers, these days it’s nearly impossible to work for hours a day without interruption.
Remote employees are especially bombarded with messages such as: “Seven days a week – you’re working for us!”
But employers should make a day mandatory, when they would not be disturbing the remote employee, with a call, email or message.
A work-life balance is not a myth. And remote employees should also be allowed to switch off completely, and not be bombarded with a work message.
Ideally, remote employees should be given a work phone or laptop which they can switch off after work hours. To be asked to switch on a work phone after hours should be allowed extra pay.
Remote employees should always keep personal and work devices separate.
There is also the increasing expectation that remote employees should respond to messages within an hour, which means they are juggling their work and home responsibilities and also urgent customer queries that can damage brand on social media.
Remote workers should be paid extra if they have to deal in such situations and be asked to submit separate time sheets for after hours work.
When they are free, they can also switch their social toggle to ‘available for work’ to let the employers know.
With only 13% of respondents saying their employers have a policy for communication time-out, many employees feel under constant pressure to work overtime.
Send a message to remote employees in your email or internal messaging system that you are available to take calls or answer emails.
We need to accept we will not have perfect work-life balance all the time, but by designing flexible working into our workplace systems we can achieve a balance that is beneficial for everyone.
(The author is a content writer at Startupanz.com. Feedback: Connect@startupanz.com)