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Work/life balance a myth according to report

Three in four Australians take work home with them and one in two put in nine hours in an average working day, according to a global study conducted by workplace solutions provider Regus.

The survey showed that almost 50 percent of workers in small businesses take work home with them at least three times a week, well above the 38 percent of workers from large companies, although 59 percent of those in large companies are more likely to work nine or more hours a day compared to those in SMEs (46 percent).

“Workers in larger companies are more likely to stay in the office for longer. This could be attributed to the greater support networks available and a stronger sense of community; while in contrast, small business workers are adopting a more flexible approach in the ways they work, at home and in their own time,” said William Willems, Regus regional vice president Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

The report, From Dedication to Medication, busts the myth of work/life balance with its survey results, in which only 13 percent of workers say they don’t take home with them and 72 percent indicate they take work home at least once a week.

“Despite the Australian economy showing greater resilience than the rest of the world, local workers and businesses are feeling the pressure. They have heavy workloads and they are doing extra hours to meet deadlines. This may be to ensure job security or increase remuneration,” proposed Willems.

He suggested that the increased use of mobile technology, which encourages workers to be ‘always on’, is also a factor.

“Businesses should consider options that let their employees work in ways that best suit their needs. This can offset the stress of a poor work/life balance and encourage more productive and committed staff,” said Willems. “As businesses continue to feel the pressure in these tough economic times, it’s vital they look after their most valuable resource—their staff.”

The global survey of more than 12,000 participants in 80 countries revealed much about Australian workers compared with the rest of the world.

  • 41% of Australian workers usually work between nine to 11 hours every day, compared to 38% of workers globally.
  • 72% of Australians take work home with them at least once a week, above the global average, including those in the UK (67%), Japan (54%) and India (67%). The figure is behind only Canada (80%), the USA (78%) and the Netherlands (75%).
  • Australians work longer hours than those in the UK, the USA, Canada and China; but fewer than those in France, India and Brazil.
  • Remote workers globally are more likely to work 11 hour days (14%), compared to fixed office workers (6%). They are also more likely to take tasks home to complete (59%) than fixed office workers (26%).
Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh is a journalist with more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business, education, travel, health, and project management. She has specialised in business since 2003.

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