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Virtual employees risk burnout

Recent survey results have revealed that mobile technologies are transforming the workplace and are helping to lift productivity and efficiency.

However, this increased efficiency is not without its cost, as the survey also found that these technologies are contributing to increased fatigue and burnout among workers.

About the survey

The findings come from the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), an annual survey conducted by workforce solutions provider Kelly Services, looking at the rise of the highly virtual workforce – characterised by widespread access to mobile technologies – and the impact on workplace productivity, work-life balance and job security.

Almost 170,000 people across all generations in 30 countries, including the Americas, Asia and Pacific (APAC) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions, participated in the survey.

Survey findings

The survey uncovered a number of interesting facts regarding the positive and negative effects of mobile technologies. These include:

● More than a quarter of employees (27%) globally say that they feel pressured to stay connected with work outside of normal work hours, through email, smartphones and other online platforms.

● More than half (53%) say that staying “connected” has increased their productivity, while work-life balance has also largely improved, but concerns about job security and burnout are being felt by a significant number of respondents.

● Nearly a quarter of workers (23%) report spending no time “connected” to the workplace during their off hours. Almost half (49%) report spending up to five hours each week, another 27% spend more than six hours per week, with many revealing they spend more than ten hours per week connected to work during their off hours.

● The blurring of the line between work and leisure is occurring across all generations but is most pronounced for Gen Y and Gen X employees and those with a professional and technical background. These workers feel the greatest pressure to maintain contact with their work, even during their downtime.

Sources of pressure

Survey respondents were asked to identify the main pressures for staying connected with work. The largest share (36%) said they were placing the pressure on themselves. Other sources of pressure were coming from:

● employers, identified by 26%,

● “industry culture” (15%),

● customers and clients (14%), and

● other employees (5%).

Additional findings

The survey also uncovered a number of additional facts relating to the impact of mobile technologies, including:

● Workers in APAC feel the most pressure to stay “connected” to their work outside of normal work hours, with 35% feeling compelled to stay in touch, compared with 28% in EMEA and 21% in the Americas.

● The most significant increase in workplace productivity occurred in APAC, with 62% experiencing gains, compared with 50% in both EMEA and the Americas.

● Almost one-third (32%) say that the use of mobile technologies has contributed to fatigue or burnout.

● Only 29% say that online technologies have improved their job security.

● Around 60% would consider telecommuting – working mainly from home or away from the office – if that were offered.