Employees working from home are twice as likely to work more than 48 hours per week

Home-based teleworkers are twice as likely to work more than 48 hours per week. — AFP Relaxnews

According to a survey by the EuroFound agency, people who telework are twice as likely to exceed the EU’s 48-hour maximum working week. For these home workers, “the right to disconnect” is also more difficult to apply.

Open door to distractions, “cushy job”, shorter days... some prejudices about working from the home office are hard to get rid of. But the pandemic and the restrictions that accompany gave unprecedented prominence to remote work and now give us elements and statistics to help us navigate through these preconceived ideas and sort out truths from falsehoods.

Numerous surveys and polls have shown that the boundary between private and personal life is now more difficult to define for people who work from home, especially when there are children at home. Freed from the time constraint of “leaving the office”, they will, for example, work later or compensate for time spent doing homework with their children. And the risk is that of seeing the overtime accumulate.

According to a recent report by the EU Agency for the improvement of living and working conditions (Eurofound), European home-based teleworkers are twice as likely to work more than the EU’s legal 48-hour work week. They are also more likely to work in their free time.

‘Right to disconnect’

Far from being new, this difficulty in separating professional and personal life has highlighted a notion that already existed before the pandemic: the right to disconnect. In other words, not being connected to Slack, Zoom, Teams or even answering work emails and phone calls received outside of work hours.

In 2017, France was the first country to officially enforce this right in all companies with more than 50 employees. Belgium, Spain, and Italy are the other three EU member states to have implemented similar measures.

The new Eurofound report includes case studies illustrating the implementation and impact of the right to disconnect in the workplace. “The experience of the first four Member States that have introduced rules and agreements on the right to disconnect prior to 2021 has demonstrated the pivotal role of the social partners in ensuring these rules are translated into reality on the ground,” outlines the survey.

The study also shows that companies are more likely to educate and train their teams on disconnection rather than employing more drastic methods, such as cutting off access to company communications at specific times.

“Although evidence of the impact of the right to disconnect on employee health and well-being, work-life balance, gender equality and company performance is lacking, social partners’ experiences at company level suggest that positive changes in company culture are taking place following the introduction of the right to disconnect,” outlined Tina Weber, who notes that it’s an area that will be the subject of research in the coming months, in the context of a return to the workplace and the rollout of hybrid working arrangements. – AFP Relaxnews

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