Worker’s Right To Disconnect, Giving Worker’s The Ability To Switch Off

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Workers Right To Disconnect: Giving Workers The Ability To Switch Off 

Just because workers have the option to disconnect, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. ‘Aeroplane mode’, ‘turn-off’ and ‘out of office’ seem to be a mutually exclusive concept to modern office culture. With post-pandemic burnout lingering, there is a need to redefine the confines of wellness in the workplace – beginning with the right to disconnect. 

Post-COVID workplaces are in overdrive. With May on the horizon, the holiday season feels like two weeks ago, summer lingers in postcard form [for those able to travel] and staff are longing for yet another long weekend [the Queen’s Birthday can’t come soon enough]. 

A simple social media detox isn’t always possible when you’re plummeted at the helm of media, nor is logging off LinkedIn when that channel is your bread and butter for budding sales opportunities. 

The eight-hour day is no more. Most of us have dabbled into the occasional weekend work, the 7:30pm email or maybe a Friday night call just before our weekly Unwined Fridays. The ’always-on’ culture , which is facilitated by technology, can cause work-life interference. Plus, compulsive internet use can be linked to workaholism. 

Data from Culture Amp, a workplace survey database, confirmed that many large firms found that only 61% of 170,000 staff across Oceania believed that they could get through all of their tasks during a regular workday. In scarier news, a smaller set from March found that only 56% of staff could effectively ‘switch-off’ post work. 

Late-pandemic burnout and existential ennui exists. Every worker has the right to disconnect, but work is seemingly everywhere. The term is languishing,  a prolific phenomenon of dulled motivation and focus according to Adam Grant. Arguably “the neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus”, and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021, is understood as a reduction in productivity in one’s work precipitated by being overworked. Now, it can even be classified as a diagnosable condition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Technology acts as both the aid and the misfortune for the modern worker. Creeping into the workers’ private lives has triggered a push from the Australian Council of Trade Unions and its counterpart organisations in NSW and Victoria to stop what they see as excessive overtime with no extra pay. Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey agrees that “we need to create an ironclad entitlement around the right to switch off”. 

Whilst businesses are assessing whether to bring their staff back to the office full-time whilst they’re being equally productive at home, they also risk workers not setting boundaries to create a true work-life balance. 

Office burnout is inevitable when you’re running on empty and not fueling your body. Social media included, is still energy. 

Almost 90% of 170,000 workers surveyed from about 300 companies across the Oceania region, centred on Australia, said their department would benefit from some degree of remote working, and 85 per cent said they could work as effectively remotely as in the office. 

Enter the WFH hybrid. Some staff from large corporations choose to do three days in the city office and two working from our coworking centre hot desks to break up the week. No more home. More boundaries. Fresh workplaces. 

Although a study from Myer Briggs shows that out of 1,000 people, those who were able to access work emails/calls outside of work were more engaged in their job, it also showed that they were more stressed. Those who found it difficult to switch off suffered a range of negative issues including stress, interference with home life and being unable to focus on one thing at a time.

Strategies for managing always-on falls into five categories: avoid technology, separate work and home, set boundaries and engage in activities that take your mind off work. Swap your morning scroll on the ‘gram or LinkedIn for five minutes of phone-free time and reap the digital-free rewards. 

If you’re looking for a separate space to your home [but is close to it], Waterman offers hot desking solutions from $30 a month.