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A third of employees unable to digitally switch off over Christmas period

Only 38% of bosses expect employees to switch off entirely

A third of employees are planning to be online and ready to work during the holiday period even if they have the time off.

This is despite 83% of UK bosses encouraging their employees to switch off during the holidays, according to a survey of 2,000 UK office workers by Slack and YouGov. The survey explored how the incoming recession is affecting employees’ ability to switch off and if they feel pressured to always be available.

Around 36% of employees who are available to work said they will check in on 24 December, with 19% planning to check work messages on 26 December, followed by 10% on 25 December, the survey found.

Only 33% of workers said their employer helps them to switch off during their holidays. Slack and YouGov suggested technology plays a role here, since 72% of employees believe having a good digital infrastructure helps to show they’re on holiday and shouldn’t be disturbed. Around 65% of employees plan to turn off their notifications for the holiday period, with 48% planning to leave a status to set expectations on when they can work.

“Technology has enabled employees to work faster and smarter in a hybrid working world, but it’s vital that employees know they can switch off during the Christmas break and are empowered to do so,” said Chris Mills, head of customer success for EMEA at Slack.

The survey also found that 38% of bosses don’t expect their employees to work over the holidays, whether that’s viewing messages or emails. However, 53% of employees who are available to work despite having the time off said they feel compelled to check in.

The two companies said that expectations need to be clearer on work over the holiday period, especially since 49% of employees and 50% of bosses worry that the pressure to always be available for work will lead to burnout.

Just over half of those surveyed also said they choose to work at a company with flexible digital infrastructure and holiday policies, which helps them choose to when and how they work.

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Working from home during the pandemic saw unions urge the government to legislate a “right to disconnect” policy in April 2021. Prospect hoped that the legal requirement would force companies to discuss when they can contact employees working from home.

If this was made legal, it would mean employees wouldn’t have to take work-related calls or emails during their time off. The think tank Autonomy also called for the right to switch off in August 2021, underlining it was needed to develop a healthy work-life balance so workers can enjoy their leisure time.

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