Employees must be allowed to switch off for health and wellbeing purposes

A study has revealed that “flexible work boundaries” all too often turn into “work without boundaries”.

Employers that do not permit their workers to disconnect from the office when they are off duty run the risk of seriously comprising their health and wellbeing, a study has warned.

According to study leader William Becker, a professor at Virginia Tech University, being electronically tied to the office during non-work hours creates anxiety for staff and causes potential conflict with partners and other family members. He warned that “flexible work boundaries” often turn into “work without boundaries”, which he said further compromised employee health and wellbeing.

As a result, Becker advocated that employers set time limits on the off-duty hours in which employees can respond to email. He also recommended that workers practice mindfulness, whereby they concentrate on being fully present at home or when engaged in family activities once work is officially over.

The problem, according to HR Dive, is that anxiety causes burnout and can lead to serious health problems, lowering productivity and encouraging absenteeism. Moreover, trying to engage burned out, overworked and ill workers is a formidable task. Add on the high cost of healthcare to treat medical conditions and the risk is even greater.