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Blurring work-life communication – are Swedes always online?
Swedish men work much more outside of office hours than women. Nevertheless they are just as happy with their work-life balance. That´s the suprising conclusion of the work life-balance study of PageGroup.
We talk about it a lot, but does a “work-life balance” really exist? What does it mean for people – and is it even a remote possibility in our age of hyper-connectivity?
Over the last decade, technology has become an even bigger part of our working lives, with companies regularly giving employees mobile phones, laptops, and occasionally tablets. Many employees in Sweden also use these connected devices for personal reasons outside of office hours, further blurring the lines between work and free time.
What has this done for our impression of a balanced life?
This blurring of the lines between what constitutes ‘work’ and what makes up ‘free time’ has an impact on happiness. How does this topic make today's working population feel about their professional life – and their private one?
PageGroup decided to investigate this phenomenon by conducting a survey of 459 people in Sweden, over the period of 3 months. The results show significant levels of ‘blurring’ between what constitutes their work life and their ‘free time’ with 62% of Sweden’s professionals checking their mail and 49% answering phone calls after office hours every weekday.
More than 73% of male employees in Sweden work outside office hours
It appears the old saying ‘always on call’ has never been so true. Over 94% of respondents are equipped with at least one device (mobile, laptop, tablet) from their company. When asked about what they use the device for, overall 45% said they only use it for professional purposes.
The data shows that professional life really is encroaching on the personal. Over 60% of male employees answering phone calls of office hours, including in the weekends, and more than 73% check their email. Female employees are a little bit more cautious when it comes to this subject. A little less than 36% answers calls, and 53% check their email.
The main reason why they work outside of office hours is because they have responsibilities that require to be contactable. This is the case with more than 72% of the male respondents and more than 56% of female respondents.
Nevertheless both male and female professionals are happy with their work-life balance. More than 73% of female employees and almost 76% of male employees give a positive answer.
Only 25% of male employees in Sweden never work during their holidays
Interestingly, 55% of male respondents said they sometimes work during their vacation period. For female employees that´s percentage is considerably lower, with 38% sometimes answering phone calls, writing emails or doing other work related tasks during their holidays. Of all female employees 46% said they never work during their holidays, compared to only 25% of male employees.
European and Sweden labour laws are there to protect employees from overworking, stress and burnout, but are they fit for purpose? One route to help both the employer and the employee find that balance is remote working.
Remote working: a good compromise?
Remote working lets employees work outside the office, normally on a voluntary basis, by using the connected devices that the company provides them.
A benefit to remote work for the employee (manager or non-manager) is the increase in control they have over their schedule – meaning that they can balance their workload with their other responsibilities.
Although this practice is widely known, from the study we see that more than 92% managers currently enjoy this perk more than employees (80,6%).
About the study
Sample: the survey was conducted among a sample of 459 people in Sweden, including unemployed people, employees, and managers.
Methodology: the representativeness of the sample assured by an adjustment of the data (gender, occupation of the interviewee, proportion of people in a job).
Collection method: the interviews consisted of self-administered questionnaires completed online from March to May 2019.