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Why logged on means you can't switch off

A third of UK employees say that having remote access to work means they can't switch off in their spare time.

32% of UK workers say that being able to check work emails and documents outside of work means they find it harder to switch off in their personal time, according to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report.

The survey of over 2,000 UK employees found that workers are divided on whether remote access to the workplace is a positive or negative development.

Two-fifths of UK workers (40%) admit to actively checking their work mobile or emails at least five times a day outside working hours. Nearly a fifth (18%) feel as though they are under surveillance with remote access to work, and 17% say it makes them feel anxious or even impacts their quality of sleep.

However, almost a third (30%) of employees say they feel empowered by having remote access to the workplace. More than half of employees (53%) say it helps them to work flexibly and 37% say it makes them more productive.

The poll also found that private sector employees are more likely to say that they can always switch off from work (47%), compared to those in the public (35%) and voluntary sectors (29%).

Claire McCartney, associate research adviser at the CIPD, said: 

"Flexible working has an important role to play in modern workplaces, and remote access to work can open up the jobs market to those who may not have been able to access it before. However, a lack of clarity and guidance for employees around remote working can cultivate an environment where some employees feel unable to physically or mentally switch off. This can have adverse effects on employee well-being and their engagement with the organisation, as well as their productivity at work."

Employers need to have a clear approach to remote working, says the CIPD. It says employees must feel trusted and empowered to take ownership of their work, but they must also feel able to speak out if they are struggling.

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