In the last few years, employees have begun working longer hours than ever before.

Despite being out-of-office, people feel pressured to be available far beyond their contracted hours. This trend is largely due to the rise in remote and hybrid work. Although flexible work models have several benefits, the ‘always-on’ work culture can become counterproductive — even detrimental. Let’s take a look at the ramifications of ‘always-on’ culture for both employees and businesses.

Burnout, stress and mental health issues

As reported in this workplace communication wellbeing guide, around 50% of employees say they never completely switch off from work. If their minds are constantly occupied by work-related duties, employees are more likely to experience stress — and eventually — burnout. Without a healthy work-life balance, employees will also miss out on important aspects of their personal lives. As a result, the company will see a notable decrease in productivity and enthusiasm.

It’s vital that employees have ample opportunity to fully switch off from their professional lives and absorb themselves in their personal lives. They’re more likely to feel refreshed before each workday, which can help boost morale and efficiency levels. Plus, by exercising healthy boundaries in a dynamic work environment, employees can better apply themselves to their personal relationships, social activities and hobbies… all of which are important for alleviating stress and protecting mental health.


Increased risk of physical health problems

During busy periods, employees often feel pressured to work through illness instead of taking sick leave – particularly at businesses with the ‘always-on’ culture. When employees continue working at business premises and neglect their symptoms, they risk spreading contagious illnesses amongst the workforce. This can lead to greater levels of absenteeism overall than if just one employee had taken sick leave. High absenteeism negatively affects productivity and profits.

Failing to take adequate sick leave not only increases absenteeism, but it also poses serious threats to employees’ overall health.. There is evidence that working during sickness can increase future risk of serious health events such as cardiovascular disease. Without ample rest and medical attention, employees risk their short- and long-term wellness.

Reduced productivity and quality of work

More work doesn’t necessarily mean higher productivity. In fact, evidence suggests that teams are more productive when they work fewer hours. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, shorter working hours provide employees with more time to rest both physically and emotionally — helping them feel more energized and focused at work. Increased focus enables team members to complete tasks more efficiently and at a higher quality.

Secondly, with long working hours, fatigue and mental burnout can lead employees to stretch tasks out to avoid being overloaded with duties. With shorter work hours, employees have a defined list of tasks to complete within a limited time frame and this tends to heighten focus and efficiency.

While enthusiastic and ambitious employees may show willingness to conform to ‘always-on’ culture, employers should avoid creating such an environment. By giving employees adequate rest and encouraging them to switch off from work at the end of each day, businesses can protect the health and wellbeing of their workforce and reap higher levels of productivity.

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