Workers feel pressure to be available out of hours on mobiles or email

Firms are failing to tackle the "always on" culture in the workplace despite the impact of modern communications on their staff, new research reveals.

They surveyed more than 370 UK workers in a range of organisations
They surveyed more than 370 UK workers in a range of organisations

A study showed that workers felt under pressure to make themselves available in the evening and weekends by mobile phone or email and to respond quickly to queries.

Unlike other countries such as France, the UK has made little progress in helping staff switch off, according to the data gathered by Dr Almuth McDowall, organisational psychologist at Birkbeck, University of London, and Professor Gail Kinman, occupational health psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire.

They surveyed more than 370 UK workers in a range of organisations, and found that just over half said their employers had no formal policy about work-life balance and turning off digital devices.

Dr McDowall said: "Our data shows clearly that organisations are unprepared for how the world of work is changing to a more digital landscape.

"The data highlighted the effects on individuals who feel under great pressure not to 'switch-off', leading to intense pressure, poor performance and worry about what the immediate future holds.

"It's time for all organisations to take a more proactive approach. We all need down-time. It's easy to underestimate the volume and intensity of digital work. Staff have to be mindful of their connectivity and should schedule in regular 'digital detoxes'".

Professor Kinman said: "Organisations must not skirt the issue and should develop formal but fluid policies.

"These should be developed in consultation with the workforce to ensure everyone's needs are addressed. Otherwise, the impact on individual well-being could be stark."