Sarah is addicted to work

Are you like Sarah? You might not know it.

Sarah wiggles her toes. The sun is shining. The kids are playing happily by the pool. Her husband stretches out on the sunbed next to her. Bliss. She reaches for her book - that’s when she sees it. Her Blackberry’s red flashing eye. She’ll leave it. Two minutes later, Sarah pulls the phone out of her bag and puts down her book.

Are you like Sarah? One in three of you are, according to Aviva’s global research. While on holiday in the last year more than a quarter of people in the UK had received a work-related phone call, read a work-related email, or replied to a work-related email while on holiday.

What the research doesn’t tell us is why.

Perhaps it’s FOMO – the fear of missing out.

Perhaps it’s the worry that work is stacking up while you’re away.

Perhaps it’s just because you can.

Flexible working can be a force for good

More and more of us have the flexibility and tools to work away from the office.

In the US, working from home among the non-self employed has grown by 115% since 2005.

In Japan 100,000 people are estimated to quit their jobs to look after ageing parents. They need more flexibility, so the Japanese government want to increase people working from home to more than 10% by 2020.

Flexible working is brilliant when it means you can take your child to their first day of school, be there to care for someone you love, or just fit in a trip to the doctors.

There are benefits for companies too. More people working from home frees up expensive office space. They are more likely to retain talented people who need flexibility to help balance their commitments. It also makes it possible for out-of-hours working to become the norm.

Now we come to the downsides

You might not have your own desk at work, which means faffing about putting your mug and notepad and whatever else in a locker. Nobody likes that.

Even if your boss doesn’t expect you to work evenings or weekends, you might end up doing it. After you’ve put the children to bed, you quickly catch up on the emails you missed earlier in the day. Why not? It’ll make tomorrow morning less stressful.

Now, put your hands up if you’ve worked from home even when you’re ill. Lots of us do.

For many, working flexibly is great. For others, it’s difficult to find the right balance.

"All employees should consider the long-term implications on their health and wellbeing if they allow themselves to be contacted while on leave. One in three people have had their holiday interrupted by a work-related activity. This can lead to switching back into ‘work mode’, therefore undoing the good work that time away allows.

I would like to encourage all employees to make a conscious effort to avoid checking work emails or taking work-related calls whilst on leave. These are habits that can be changed and being fully able to switch off from work remains vital for a sustainable work-life balance."

Surely holidays, if nothing else, should be work-free for all of us? Even Sarah.


Gwen Warrilow - mobile: 07800 692 940

Interested in our research?