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Flexible working: let workers switch off over Christmas

10 December 2015

Flexible working: let workers switch off over Christmas

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How many of us will really switch off this Christmas (and that means turning off the smartphone, not just taking time out at home)? Flexible working should not mean “always on” working, argues Mandy Rutter.

There was great interest when it was reported in 2014 that France was going to ban work emails after 6pm. The story turned out to be untrue – it was just guidance from trade unions – but it serves to show how important the issue has become. Since then, there has been little sign of any response from HR in terms of policies or clarity on what is expected.

A flexible era

“Always on” working is a part of a new flexible working era that is more difficult to deal with, a grey area with implications for people that have yet to be fully understood or acted on. The rise of wearable technology is not helping. The average smartphone user already unlocks their phone 110 times a day, a statistic that is certain to increase once our mobile devices become physically attached.

Far too many workers have become “anxiously attached’ to their mobiles, constantly checking for messages. As a result, they end up responding to unimportant or non-urgent tasks, instead of allowing themselves to detach from work for long enough to recharge and regain a sense of perspective. The fact is, our psychological ability to differentiate between when we need to be immersed and connected and when we need to disengage has not kept pace with technological advancements.

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