Increasing use of the Internet and e-mail is forcing employees to work longer hours and disrupting their work-life balance, a leading expert claimed.
Michel Syrett, work-life balance consultant and academic, claimed that the Internet commits staff to working longer hours because it makes them contactable beyond their contracted hours.
He said, "The Internet and e-mail revolution is extending presenteeism into the home. People are having to work beyond their contracted hours by being contactable."
In the past, e-mail and the Internet have been seen as useful tools for facilitating flexible working but Syrett said it will work against a healthy work-life balance. Employers will pay a high price for the resulting absenteeism due to sickness and stress, he warned.
Commenting on the issue, Liz Rayner, HR director of Shell Gas and Power, said, "The downside of high-speed communication is that people can access you whenever they want to. And because an e-mail arrives instantly in your mailbox, there's the pressure to instantly respond. So it's much more difficult to switch off when you want to."