A new report from Microsoft has revealed that the UK’s culture of ‘always-on’ working is putting undue stress on employees. Tech, it seems, is the answer – but only if employers embrace the opportunity.
Remote and flexible working are not necessarily new workplace concepts, but they’ve most definitely enjoyed their fair share of the spotlight in recent years, the former in particular is now a much-coveted criteria for employees on the job hunt. Unfortunately, remote working is only as good as the culture and technology supporting it, and as Microsoft research has revealed, some organisations are finding they don’t have the right foundations in place to make it work.
Always-On and Always Working
Stepping away from the hurdles of remote working for a moment, let’s look at the problem being addressed by radical new ways of working: the ‘always-on’ phenomenon. You might have come across ‘always-on’ as part of your personal life when it comes to individuals and brands demanding your attention via phone calls and social media messaging, all because you carry a device with you throughout the day. Some feel there’s now an expectation to be available at all times, simply because technology has shortened the gap between us.
In the workspace, this can be particularly problematic. Microsoft’s report showed that 86% of respondents experienced anxiety due to work pressure in 2018, leading to feelings of failure (79%), difficulties in switching off (87%), and trouble sleeping (86%). Elsewhere, 30% said they sacrificed their personal lives for work, and 56% answer work calls out of office hours.
With the ability to step away from work under threat, it’s only a matter of time before the repercussions impact both physical and mental health, leading to an unhappy workforce pushed to exhaustion.
The solution? Technology. The barrier? Using the technology on offer.
The How and Why of It All
Although technology has enabled the always-on culture to spring up, it falls to both our restraint and a more refined look at said technology to ensure it doesn’t consume us or our employees.
Within the same research, only 35% of respondents said their organisations actively encouraged flexible or remote working – with many other demanding an ‘official reason’ for working outside of the office. We already know that remote working both improves work-life balance and is possible, so why aren’t more organisations making the most of it? And why is always-on more prevalent?
The answer lies in the aforementioned foundations that are necessary to pull off successful remote working, whilst minimising the perception that always-on should be the norm. These are:
Building the right culture so that remote working is encouraged, leaders are proving to be examples, and trust sits at the heart of the organisation;
Creating the framework to build remote working upon, including opportunities for employees to engage with one another, and guidelines on limiting communications to work hours;
And implementing the technology which can make all of this happen, empowering your team to work anywhere, whilst staying connected.
The latter point is especially important, as technology has already led us to the always-on culture – and as Microsoft discovered in its research, 48% of respondents wanted their organisation to invest in better technology for efficiency’s sake.
Taking a step back and choosing the right solutions – such as Office 365 and Microsoft Teams for collaborating and communicating, Flow for automating tedious processes, and MyAnalytics for ensuring employees are switching off – is crucial to fostering a workplace where remote working is accessible and effective, and technology’s influence has been effectively curbed for the greater good.
When all is said and done, an organisation is only as good as its people, and they’re only as good as their wellbeing allows them to be. To that end, ensuring employees can switch off and enjoy a work-life balance (whilst not shying away from technology) should be a priority for all businesses – especially as we continue into the future.
Interested in implementing effective remote working in your organisation? Have you considered Microsoft’s suite of solutions to keep your team connected, productive, and safe? Get in touch with a member of our team to find out more.