Back To Work: But Did You Really “Get Away From It All”? :

“The worst thing about going on holiday is having to come back to work”. This was apparently the opinion of many respondents questioned during a survey conducted by “LondonOffices.com”. Whether you share this view will probably depend on whether your vacation was a success or disaster and how much you like or hate your job.

The research, published on the ILM (Institute of Leadership & Management) website, concluded that office employees in the UK “have to deal on their return with more than 800 e-mails, nearly three hours of missed phone calls and almost six pieces of office gossip”, and so “within five minutes the benefits of two weeks lying on the beach are completely wasted”.

A recent investigation by “CareersBuilderUK” has likewise indicated that “39% of workers come back from a trip with so much work accumulated that they wish they’d never taken time off at all”. In many cases, of course – as “Amsource Technology” pointed out on 19th June – they never really escaped from the office: “Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, they can check into work at any time from anywhere  – which could be a factor in the increasing number of stressed-out employees”.

According to CareersBuilderUK, “66% of UK workers say they sometimes feel “burnt out” or exhausted and one in ten say they always do”. Despite this, “a mere 7% actively dislike or hate their job, 24% feel ‘mediocre’ about it, 43% like it and 26% love it”. Furthermore,“71% feel loyalty to their current employer, compared to 67% in France and 86% in Germany” and 60% of them have no plans to seek other employment during the next 12 months.

Statistics produced by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), however, present a somewhat different picture. These suggest that 27% of British workers are unhappy with their working life and would like to set up their own business – with running a café being one of the most popular options. The AAT provides a list of the “23 signs that you hate your job and should consider working for yourself”: Among them: Having lunch on your own to get away from colleagues, constantly looking at the clock, taking extended toilet breaks, despising the boss, doing the minimum amount of overtime to avoid getting fired, no longer worrying about dressing smartly and looking forward to an appointment with your doctor or dentist.

The “unhappiest profession”, The Daily Express has asserted, is the legal sector, “with 40% not enjoying their jobs, just ahead of 37% of unhappy employees in manufacturing and 36% in hospitality and property”. The “specialist recruiter” Maple Resourcing has found, by contrast, that “construction and engineering workers are the happiest, closely followed by people who work in the finance and marketing industries”.

A key factor also influencing people’s attitudes to their jobs is how long it takes them to get to work. A report issued by “Get Living London” (GLL) on 2nd September states that “the average British commuter will spend the equivalent of one year & 35 days of their working lives getting to & from the office at a cost of around £42,000”. Nearly half of them (47%) are “unwilling to accept a job which is more than 48 minutes travel from their home”.

Among the “top ten commuter hates” are: Traffic jams (52%), delays to the transport network (26%), the cost (22%), the monotony of the same journey every day (21%), having to stand due to no seats (12%), people talking loudly on their phones (12%), passengers with bad personal hygiene (12%), being packed in like sardines (11%).

GLL says that 23% of commuters occupy themselves by watching the other people in their compartment. The remainder read books (16%), think (15%), hide behind their newspaper (12%), play games on their phone (9%), catch up on their e-mails (8%), sleep (7%), eat breakfast (6%), call friends & family (5%).

How do all these people spend their time once they finally get to work? In an article explaining “Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More”, the |Huffington Post journalist Amol Sarva has described the “culture shock” experienced by a young German woman on a working exchange in the UK. While she was in the office, the woman told a BBC documentary, her colleagues were constantly drinking coffee and discussing private matters such as their plans for that evening. She expressed surprise at “the casual nature of British workers”.

As Sarva noted, “In German business culture, when an employee is at work, they shouldn’t be doing anything else”. Facebook, office gossip and private e-mails are simply not allowed and are “socially unacceptable”. Although the average working week there consists of just 35 hours, each working day “is focused on delivering efficient productivity”. The off hours, Sarva observed, “are truly off hours. Germans generally value the separation between private and working lives”. The German government, it seems, has been considering “a ban on work-related e-mails after 6pm, to counter the accessibility that smartphones and constant connectivity give employers to their employees”. Can you imagine, asked Sarva, President Obama enacting such a policy in the USA? Or indeed, any British Government attempting to do likewise in the UK.

Filed under: Society, Travel | Posted on September 7th, 2015 by Colin D Gordon

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