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Deloitte warns of 'always-on' workplace culture

Feb 28
Tags: Deloitte
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Deloitte warns of 'always-on' workplace culture

Deloitte has warned of how modern technology can contribute to an 'always-on' working mentality that could pose a risk to employee health and wellbeing. 

The firm published research highlighting a recent increase in young workers regularly using their phones for business reasons outside normal working hours, from 12% in 2018 to 21% last year.

High-pressure culture

The survey examined the technology habits of 4,150 people between the ages of 16 and 75 in the UK, finding that two-thirds (66%) of employees with a smartphone use their device for work-related activities. This rises to 79% of those aged between 18 and 24.

Around one in six 18 to 24 year-olds (16%) said they check work emails on their phone every hour, compared to only 5% of respondents aged between 55 and 75.

More than half (52%) of young workers use their phones to conduct daily checks of their work emails, compared to the national average of 36%.

Other findings showed that three-quarters (77%) of smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 have experienced side effects from overusing their device, with 39% saying they experience higher levels of distraction when trying to complete a task.

Nearly one in six (15%) even admitted to waking up during the night to check their phone.

This research followed a previous survey by Deloitte that highlighted the impact of poor mental health on UK employers. This issue reportedly costs organisations up to £45 billion a year.

Carolyn Lorian, workplace wellbeing consulting lead at Deloitte, said smartphones can deliver "huge benefits" to workforce productivity if they are used in the right way.

"Used in the wrong way, smartphones can have a detrimental effect on how people approach their work, adding to the 'always-on', high-pressured workplace culture," she added.

"With young people experiencing this at the very start of their career, the concern is that this will set the precedent of how people work for generations to come. Down the line, this could pose serious threats to both mental and physical health."

Could 5G have an effect?

The way businesses communicate and work could change drastically with the arrival and growth of 5G wireless technology.

Earlier research by Deloitte predicted that more than 100 companies around the world will be evaluating 5G or will have deployed the technology in industrial environments like factories, ports and logistics centres by the end of this year.

The company said private 5G networks will give many of the world's largest companies "ultra-reliable, high-speed, low-latency, power-efficient, high-density wireless connectivity".

Dan Adams, head of telecommunications at Deloitte, said 5G is set to be "the most disruptive mobile technology since the mobile phone itself", suggesting it will have a big impact on how people communicate and access information in their jobs.

"The way we work fundamentally changed with the launch of 4G and Wi-Fi. 5G will bring a similar transformation to the connectivity of machines and devices," he added.

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