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Impact of Technology on Work/Life Balance


We recently examined the impact technology has on our work life balance – and our findings suggest it is not for the best.

In the 1930s, economist John Maynard Keynes confidently predicted modern technology would deliver a 15-hour working week, with people choosing more leisure as their material needs were satisfied. His theory was simple: technological progress increased the output of goods per hour worked, meaning people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would hardly have to work at all.

We would like to thank all who completed our survey and also the various media that were interested in the topics. The full report is available here: Full Fastnet 2014 Survey Report

You can also read a blog from our Managing Director, Niamh O’Driscoll on her views of the findings.

• Almost three quarters of the working population think that technology has had a negative impact on work-life balance.  [68% of employees and 81% of employers surveyed]

• 60% of employees access their work email account on their personal device and almost two thirds (62%) respond to work emails outside of office hours;

• 61% of employers surveyed expect employees to check emails outside of office hours;

• More than half of the employees surveyed said that they access work emails while on annual leave, although 82% of employers surveyed do not expect their employees to access work emails while on leave;

• 81% of employees think that remote email access contributes to longer working hours;

“The responses to our latest HR survey indicate that employees and employers experience similar difficulties in managing work and leisure time,” said Niamh O’Driscoll, Managing Director of Fastnet Recruitment & Search, a leading provider of Recruitment, Executive Search and HR Outsourcing solutions to the Life Sciences, Agri-Food and Business Services sectors.

“Our survey shows that the increasing use of smartphones means that people are constantly connected, whether in or out of the office and indeed outside office hours. This 24/7 accessibility means that many of us feel obliged to respond to emails and calls outside of work hours” Niamh said.

“Clearly there is a balance to be struck here” said Niamh. “Ireland is lucky enough to be home to a large number of highly successful multinational firms and there is no doubt that the flexibility of our workforce and ease of doing business here has consistently influenced positive FDI decisions. We have moved up 9 places in the last 4 years in overall competitiveness in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook and punch well above our weight in many areas ranking 1st for flexibility & adaptability of workforce and 1st for attitudes to globalisation.

These are our trump cards – we won’t be switching off our smartphones anytime soon! The ability to have a flexible schedule because of advances in technology would appear to present opportunities for improvements in work-life balance, however, these survey results show that technology’s influence on flexibility can just as easily undermine the quest for a work-life balance. Working ‘smarter’ within a global marketplace has now become goal for many of us.”

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