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Employees Face the Challenge of ‘Switching Off’ Work During the Festive Season


With a significant amount of the UK workforce expected to work from home beyond lockdown, the line between the ability to “switch off” between home and office can start to blur.

During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, research collated by Coworking Specialists Instant Offices shows 60% of UK employees worked from home. According to a Finder report, 26% of workers say they plan to continue working remotely after lockdown.

For many workers, this can be a challenge to keep a healthy work-life balance – so, with the holidays coming up, Instant Offices provides an insight into the importance of shutting down work during the festive season.

A survey of full-time remote workers revealed that switching off is the biggest challenge for these employees. In fact, 40% of remote employees said they struggle to unplug after work hours. Other major challenges included non-work distractions (32%), loneliness (23%) and resolving technical issues (21%).

Working parents have reported a similar trend, and more than half of them say overworking has caused a strain in their relationships.

The latest Modern Families Index reveals the following stats:

  • 48% say working from home has increased the hours they work
  • 47% say the boundaries between work and home have become blurred thanks to technology
  • 44% check their emails or do other work in the evenings
  • 57% say that staying in ‘work mode’ has caused arguments with their partner
  • 54% say that being unable to switch off has caused arguments with their children

Virtual Presenteeism on the Rise

Presenteeism in the workplace is bad news for productivity and wellbeing, and the rise in people working from home has seen an increase in virtual presenteeism. 46% of Brits said they are feeling more pressure to be available to their bosses and colleagues, and 35% admitted to putting in a day’s work while feeling ill.

Remote workers who have been working while ill cited the following reasons:

  • 40% felt they ‘weren’t sick enough’ to take a day off
  • 26% say their workload is too large to take time off
  • 16% say they are afraid of being made redundant during these uncertain times

How to Unplug and Enjoy Your Time Off

Set clear boundaries and communicate them

This includes booking leave well in advance and notifying the people you work closely with, who are most likely to be affected. It’s also best to set an automated out-of-office response on your email, which clearly states when you will be available again.

Don’t make assumptions

Achieving a great work-life balance for remote employees requires flawless communication. Instead of assuming that your boss and colleagues expect you to be available while on leave, talk to them beforehand about their expectations around your availability and response times.

Physically unplug

It helps to literally unplug and disengage from the technology that keeps us so busy. Switch off your laptop and disable email notifications on your phone. Online work from home setups should be packed away or moved out of your living area during this time to distinguish between ‘home’ and ‘holiday’.

Plan ahead

Working from home stress is often the same as if you were in the office. If you’re worried about returning to a mountain of emails after your holiday, put a plan in place that will help you prioritise your responses once you’re back at work.

Physically switching off when you work from home will make it much easier for you to relax and recharge while you’re on leave. You’ll be able to return to work feeling refreshed, which means you’re also likely to be more productive and hit the ground running in 2021!

Business News Wales