Quiet intrusion of technology for workers

By Lilia Guan
Australian office workers are less inclined to being always available for work via communications technology, said a work-life balance survey by human resource service provider, NorthgateArinso.
Australia and New Zealand Managing Director at NorthgateArinso, David Page, said the survey showed that fewer workers feel that work is intruding on their personal life this year (39 per cent) versus last (52 per cent).
“I’d like to think this drop might in part be due to companies starting to change culturally,” Mr Page said.
“There’s a small but increasing number of bosses who recognise the online fatigue from being always available as a growing HR issue.
“The ongoing blurring of home and work life, driven by communications technology, has been tacitly condoned for some time. Its downsides for workers’ health and wellbeing are emerging as significant concerns."
The trend has been ‘under the radar’ for some years and human resource managers in the public sector, seeking to respond, face an entrenched issue.
“From the worker’s perspective it’s been tacitly condoned for some time,” Mr Page said.
“There’s a fuzzy area of overlap between work and non-work communications outside of office hours and it’s been going on for some time.
“Armed with a clearer view of the impost on office workers’ lives by work-based communications (perhaps through more intensive quantitative and qualitative research), HR managers will be better placed to develop and implement policy responses.”
Mr Page said such policies will provide guidelines for communications after-hours.
Whether it’s a curfew of some form will depend on the department or organisation and how it operates and there are a number of tactical ways to reinforce such policy.
“However, the first challenge is accepting that this is an issue and shedding more light on its implications for workers health,” he said.
According to Mr Page, some businesses are taking action, for example, putting in place ‘turn off’ policies with their workers outside work hours.
“Volkswagen in Europe has turned off Blackberry email after hours and other firms are implementing similar email amnesties,” he said.
“Steps like this underline to employees that the business takes this 24/7 demand on their attention seriously,” He said.

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