In recent times, the boundaries between work and personal life have increasingly blurred for UK employees, as revealed in a comprehensive study by Forbes Advisor, a leading financial guidance and price comparison platform. The findings paint a picture of the modern workplace where the lines between ‘on the clock’ and ‘off the clock’ are often indistinct, particularly for those embracing remote or hybrid work models.

The study indicates that a substantial 53% of UK workers have found themselves working during their scheduled time off over the past year. This trend is not limited to mere occasional checking of emails; on average, individuals dedicated around two and a half hours daily to work-related tasks while on holiday. Such commitment extends even to significant holidays, with 14% of employees working on Easter Sunday and 13% on Boxing Day.

The Impact of Remote Working

The research further highlights a stark difference between remote/hybrid employees and their office-based counterparts. A notable 64% of those in remote or hybrid roles reported working while off the clock, in contrast to 44% of office-based staff. This disparity underscores the challenges faced by remote workers in disconnecting from their professional responsibilities.

The Pressure to Stay Connected

A critical factor driving this trend is the perceived obligation to respond to colleagues. Around 24% of the survey respondents felt compelled to reply to work messages when out of the office, and 18% reported stress due to missing out on work-related updates during their absence. Additionally, 16% utilised their time off to set or review work goals, and 9% were concerned about being perceived as uncooperative if they didn’t work during holidays.

Consequences of Working While on Holiday

Despite the prevalent trend of working during holidays, half of the UK employees acknowledged that this habit prevented them from fully relaxing. However, 30% believed that working during their time off was essential to stay ahead of their workload. This mindset raises concerns about the long-term implications for employee well-being and work-life balance.

Expert Insights

Kevin Pratt, a business expert at Forbes Advisor, comments on this phenomenon. He notes that while the workplace has evolved significantly in recent years, with remote working becoming more common, the pressure to be ‘always available’ persists. Pratt cautions against the detrimental effects of work-related tasks encroaching on holiday time. Though seemingly innocuous activities like checking emails might appear harmless, they can contribute to an inability to fully unwind and reset.

Pratt emphasises the importance of effectively managing workloads and setting clear expectations with managers, especially as festive periods like Christmas approach. This approach is vital to ensure employees can take the necessary time off to rejuvenate and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Looking Ahead

As the landscape of work continues to transform, the findings from Forbes Advisor shed light on the critical need for both employees and employers to reassess and redefine the boundaries between work and personal time. This balance is essential to foster a healthy, productive work environment that accommodates the changing nature of work without compromising employee well-being.