Half of workers in Ireland feel pressure to work outside hours, study finds

Of those who are struggling to separate “work-time” with “life-time”, a quarter say they either go in early and/or stay late to accommodate the demands of their job.
Half of workers in Ireland feel pressure to work outside hours, study finds

James Cox

While five in 10 workers in Ireland say they can leave work at the front door, the other half are grappling with a real or perceived pressure to work outside their set working hours, new research has found.

Of those who are struggling to separate “work-time” with “life-time”, a quarter say they either go in early and/or stay late to accommodate the demands of their job.

These are som of the primary findings of Taxback.com’s All-Ireland Employee Survey, which surveyed the attitudes of 1,200 employees in SMEs throughout the country towards their work/life balance.

Employer flexibility

Employer flexibility around hours and pace of work was found to be the most important consideration for most workers (54 per cent) when it comes to workplace offerings.

The tax refund specialists compared this survey with a similar survey they had undertaken in early 2020, before the pandemic hit, and found that in the main, the pandemic experience has had little impact on the expectations workers feel their employers have of them when it comes to work hours.

Barry Cahill, director of the employee wellbeing service at Taxback.com, said: “The survey shows a 50:50 split in how workers feel toward their professional responsibilities, with one half feeling an expectation to work overtime or perform work duties outside of normal office hours, and the other feeling very clear on professional boundaries and being able to leave work concerns firmly at the front door."

Among those who do feel pressure to work more, 24 per cent either go in early or stay late, 16 per cent work early or stay late and also check emails outside of office hours, and a further 10 per cent check emails when not at work.

"We conducted this same survey in 2020 (pre-Covid) with very similar results – at the time, 47 per cent felt pressure to tend to work duties outside their regular hours. So, given the transformation in our work patterns as a result of Covid, it’s interesting to see that this attitude hasn’t just emerged as a result of the pandemic and our shift to remote working – it’s something which we’ve clearly been struggling with as a labour force for much longer.

"It is a surprising result in some respects, as one could assume that it would be harder to switch off from work while remote working than it would be when working from an office – mainly owning to having that physical separation between work and home."

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