Work-life balance: blurring boundaries with mobile devices
There are clear signs that working and private lives are merging. Is it necessary to present surveys that prove this? Probably not, but it’s worthwhile to explore and analyse how our perceptions of work-life balance are shifting today. The company Good Technology carried out several polls in different countries which they have recently presented, namely France, UK and USA. The results are intriguing.
In all surveys, the majority of corporate workers did some kind of activity related to their private life during working hours (answer emails, check internet pages for personal use, check their bank account, plan vacation, online shopping, etc.); but they also take care of work related things outside the work day.
In France 96% employees work after office hours, in the UK it is 93% and in USA, 80%. But the actual free time dedicated to work paints a different picture. On average workers spend 7 hrs/week in USA, 4 hours/week in France, and 3.31 hours/week in the UK.
Regardless of country, of all the work activities that executives do outside hours, one stands out: checking work emails. To the point that in France 30% of them admit it would be impossible not to do so.
There are other figures that emerge from these surveys based on a more subjective assessment worth mentioning.
In France, 63% of executives polled state that their working lives have changed over the last few years, and 40% of them say for the worse. But surprisingly when you ask them if they would prefer to enjoy their free time more or a better salary, 62% prefer the latter, while 33% would prefer better leisure time.
In USA, the overtime has become so commonplace that only 25% surveyed said it caused an occasional quarrel at home and more than 50% reported no arguments whatsoever.
Clearly there is an increasingly global shift in mentality on working after hours. Work has become a part of private space. Similarly there appears to be an appreciation for greater freedom and choice as to where and when employees can get their work done. Surprising? It seems that executives have accepted that the boundries for work life balance have blurred, and polls show that mobile phones have something to do with this.
MOBILITY HAS A LOT TO DO WITH IT
In France 33% of those surveyed state that the work life balance changed when they became owners of a smart phone, compared to 61% who disagree. Some 81% confirm they use a company phone for work, but there are 56% who also use a private device for work use.
In USA, 60% use it to stay organized. Almost 50% of these feel they have no choice but to keep connected, as customers need quick responses. In the UK, like the Americans some 50% use it to stay organized. However 20% do so to impress the boss. And 61% use it to read and answer work emails on their commute.
Smart phones are clearly the link between both the working and personal worlds, integrating them. Although already widely accepted, the ability to use a personal device at work is perceived as a gesture of trust on the behalf of the company. Executives are also aware that this is a small invasion of private space and a potential source of stress.
INTEGRATION WITH HR APPLICATIONS
Will the HR department be able to make the most of this integration so that employees can manage HR mobile apps? The answer is still to be seen, but it seems clear that the limitations for integrating both worlds must be considered. We’d have to be watchful of what happens in the months to come, as we saw in our last article on mobility. And in that context the key word to keep top of mind is the phenomenon that the Anglosphere calls BYOD: Bring Your Own Device to the Office.
- US: Good Technology Survey Reveals Americans are Working More, but on their Own Schedule http://www1.good.com/news/press-releases/current-press-releases/161009045.html
- UK: UK Workers put in Three Weeks Overtime Answering Calls and Emails at Home http://www1.good.com/news/press-releases/current-press-releases/161098825.html
- France: Quand la vie professionnelle des cadres rencontre leur vie privée http://www.slideshare.net/cedricbuisson/etude-good-technology-ifop-vie-prive-et-vie-professionnelle-des-cadres