The ‘always on’ culture plays its part in decreasing UK productivity


A new report from the Workforce Institute Europe (WIE) at Kronos Incorporated shows German and French workers are more productive than us.

There is no escaping from technology. It’s a fact of the developed world’s life. But how we use it to our advantage is what's in question.

Because according to the latest study of 3,000 full-time workers across Germany, France and the UK there’s a close correlation with an ‘always on’ attitude towards technology and lower productivity. And as the UK continues to witness a consistent decline in productivity, it’s something we should be taking very seriously.

UK workers spend the least amount of time actually working whilst at work. Just 46% of UK employees say they put in more than seven hours of work a day, while more than a quarter (27%) complete less than five hours of work a day. This is compared to 63% of French workers and 67% of German workers who put in more than seven solid hours a day concentrating on work in the office, while 21% of German and French workers complete less than five hours a day.

And with 21% of UK 16-25 year olds completing 7-8 hours of “work related activity” in their working day, well below the national average of 35%, it doesn’t bode well for future UK productivity either.

What are some of the reasons for this? Social media was revealed as the single biggest distraction for the youngest section of the UK workforce. No surprise there. And looking at the broader use of technology in the workplace, 35% claimed they are often distracted by technology at work, compared with 24% of German workers.

Not only are UK workers more distracted, but they also take longer breaks during the day – with 33% taking more than the allocated hour per day. But they’re also more likely to take work home with them. 81% of UK workers said they use their own devices to work outside the office, making it difficult to differentiate between work and personal life.

And it seems to impact on our sleep too. 50% of British workers regularly get less than six hours sleep, whilst 20% suggested they get only four hours. And with 28% of UK workers under 24 years old stating that they’ve been woken up by a work email or text (compared to France at 10% and Germany at 15%), it suggests something need to be done.

So, whilst it’s all very well employers striving to achieve a good work/life balance, it seems we – as individuals – need to break some of our own bad habits too.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

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Cathy Halstead Date: Oct 19, 2017

Interesting piece, thanks. As we at Timewise know, the' always on' culture can be a particular problem for flexible workers due to a lack of proper flexible job design. From remote workers struggling to switch off, as you note, to part time workers trying to squeeze a full time job into part time hours, there's a hidden army of flexers out there working more than the time they're paid for. We're working with employers to design jobs with flexibility built in, so the workload fits the role; when it's done right, everybody benefits.

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The ‘always on’ culture plays its part in decreasing UK productivity