In today’s technologically-driven world, it’s become increasingly common for people to stay connected virtually even when they’re not technically working. According to a recent survey conducted by collaboration software company Slack, a staggering three in five workers actively try to stay “active” online during their off-hours.
The survey, which reached out to over 2,000 workers across different industries, revealed that employees are constantly striving to maintain a certain level of online presence, even when it seems unnecessary. This behavior has become more prevalent as remote work and flexible schedules have become the norm for many companies.
The term “active” in this context refers to being available, responsive, and engaged in digital communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or other work-related applications. It suggests that workers feel the need to project availability or be ready to respond to work-related messages at all times, even outside of their designated work hours.
One explanation for this behavior is the blurred boundary between work and personal life that has emerged with the rise of remote work. When our offices become our homes, it becomes harder to create a distinct separation between work and leisure time. As a result, employees report feeling compelled to remain connected and responsive well beyond their formal working hours, driven by the fear of missing out on important conversations or decisions.
However, this persistent online presence comes at a cost. For instance, workers may find it challenging to truly disconnect and recharge, leading to feelings of burnout and reduced productivity during actual working hours. Additionally, the expectation to be always available creates an unhealthy work culture where boundaries are constantly pushed, ultimately impacting the worker’s well-being and work-life balance.
Employers must recognize the potential harm caused by this behavior and address it proactively. Instead of encouraging round-the-clock availability, leaders should promote healthy work practices that prioritize downtime and establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Encouraging employees to take breaks, disconnect from work-related platforms outside of designated hours, and fostering a culture that values work-life balance can have a tremendously positive impact on individuals’ mental well-being.
Moreover, companies need to examine their communication strategies and ensure they’re not fostering a culture that expects constant availability from their employees. This may mean setting guidelines around communication etiquette, encouraging asynchronous communication, and empowering employees to prioritize their personal lives.
While technology has undoubtedly made work more accessible and flexible, it’s crucial to strike a balance between staying connected and maintaining personal boundaries. The three in five workers who continually strive to be “active” online during non-working hours indicate a need to redefine and reshape work practices to create a healthier, more sustainable work environment where employees can truly disconnect and recharge to stay productive and motivated.