Employees are effectively cancelling out every day of their annual leave by using phones and iPads to work from home
The so-called ‘always-on’ working culture has previously been blamed for a spike in neck and muscle pain
Workers are effectively cancelling out every day of their annual leave by using phones and iPads to work outside of office hours, it has been revealed.
A survey of more than 1,500 managers found that a majority were spending 29 extra days a year working on their handheld devices, cancelling out their statutory holiday time.
Four out of five of those polled by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) said they worked at least an additional hour every day, rising to three hours for one in 10 of those polled.
Those working long hours were three times more likely to feel stressed, while managers who find it difficult to switch off said that they were less productive.
Most managers surveyed said they always checked emails and reported a link between working long hours and health problems and burnout.
Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said: “There’s nothing wrong with hard graft, but only if you’re well supported. Accidental managers who lack the professional skills to deal with the causes of burnout are a threat to their health and others’ at work.
“Productivity will also continue to suffer unless employers train their managers to prevent overwork and strike the necessary work/life balance.
“Most of us are comfortable with the idea that a modern workplace requires us to occasionally pitch in out of hours.
“But the ‘always on’ culture must be switched off, with line managers encouraged to support an ‘always willing’ mindset that reflects the give and take necessary for a higher quality of working life.”
The so-called ‘always-on’ working culture has previously been blamed for a spike in neck and muscle pain caused by working on handheld devices.
A government report into sickness absence in the labour market highlighted that more days were lost to back, neck and muscle pain, than any other cause in 2014.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders accounted for 30.6m working days off in 2013 and, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, were the cause of a third of long-term sickness absences between October 2010 and September 2013.
Emily Partridge, a regional lead physiotherapist for Bupa, said: “Advances in technology mean that fewer people have to do the sort of physical lifting that they used to. Most of the people I see tend to work in office environments.”
But advances in technology have been shown to be worsening the situation.
“The way that people work has certainly changed the sort of problems we’re now seeing,” said Ms Partridge.
“Historically, office workers would complain of lower back problems, but these days the rise of smartphones and tablets that require you to flex your head forward to work on them mean neck and shoulder problems are far more common.”
“I encourage people to consider separate keyboards for tablets, even a mouse, to help replicate a good PC set–up. But even something as innocuous as a smartphone can require a wrist to be in the sort of extended position that causes tendonitis issues in the wrists and the elbow.
“Issues build up over a long period. The muscles in the neck can become tighter and weaker, you may find you have pain in your shoulders, or even nerve damage, which can cause pins and needles in the arms and migraines.”