Technology clouds line between work and play

Technology clouds line between work and play
Photo: DPA.
Nearly half of German employees admit to reading job-related emails in their free time, making it more difficult for them to relax as the line between work time and chill time becomes increasingly blurred, a new study reported on Monday.

The study, conducted by the Society for Consumer Electronics (GfU), showed that 42 percent of Germans said they read work-related messages after work hours, as well as on the weekend.

One-third said that they make sure to be available for clients, colleagues and supervisors after the end of the work day, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Products with internet connections are already omnipresent in households,” the report states.

“The steady increase of internet-capable products has certainly resulted in information being practically everywhere and continually available, but it also means that increasingly, there is less of a separation between free time and work.”

Germans seemed more dedicated to their work than those in the United Kingdom or France, where 37 percent and 36 percent of workers respectively said they read business emails during leisure time.

The balance between work and play in an increasingly digitized world has been an ongoing topic of discussion in Germany, with the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Andrea Nahles, proposing limits on the times when employer's may contact workers outside of work hours. 

A separate survey earlier this year showed that especially younger Germans say they are selecting jobs that do not take over their lives.

Germans in the study on Monday were far behind their more workaholic neighbours in Switzerland and Austria, where 58 percent and 54 percent respectively said they spent time intended for relaxation on reading through work emails.

Even stereotypically laid-back Mediterraneans reported checking their emails more often than Germans with 56 percent of Italians and 45 percent of Spaniards confessing to perusing through their work accounts in their spare time.

The study also pointed out that just as people let their work life extend into their private life, oftentimes the opposite is also true. Forty-two percent of German respondents said they checked personal emails and Facebook accounts while at the office.

On the other hand, the report said that many people complained that the mixing of work and leisure time can make it difficult to actually enjoy time off. In Germany, 41 percent said that the extension of work into free time made it more difficult to disconnect and unwind after hours.

Still, this doesn’t seem to have put Germans completely off from technology. Thirty-five percent said that internet-connected products meant a simplification of everyday tasks, compared to 30 percent who said they didn’t see their daily lives getting any easier from living in an increasingly connected world.

Chairman of the board of GfU, Hans-Joachim Kamp, advised workers to exercise moderation in using new technology to constantly stay up-to-date, especially with work.

“No employee should think it is normal for work to take over their free time,” Kamp said in a statement. “Everyone should know where the power button is – and use it.”

Jobs in Germany

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.