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Will your colleagues be working flexibly over the Bank Holidays?

It’s that time of year again. Today everybody will be working frantically to ensure that they can take some time to be with their families or at least get some shopping in as there seem to be even more Bank Holidays than at Christmas at this time of year.

Leaving aside silly stories about whether or not Cadbury and the National Trust have edited “Easter” out of any promotions (they appear to have done no such thing), this leaves only one issue: virtually nobody takes a proper break away from emails and calls while they are on holiday.

Workaholism is counterproductive

Companies have found this to their cost before. Two years ago I published the book of which I was co-author, “The Smarter Working Manifesto“, the co-author of which was a European managing director of a medium-sized company. He had put flexible (or “smarter”) working policies in place in his business and found, eventually, that it didn’t suit some people because they were unable to switch off. Burnout, although only defined vaguely by many, is recognisable when you feel it and it’s not pleasant.

Meanwhile other health issues are significant. A study quoted in this clipping points to the majority of flexible workers failing to sit at proper desks when they are working from home, risking a lot of damage to their backs, knees and elsewhere (they won’t feel it if they’re young but it can catch up later when it’s too late to fix). From the employer’s point of view, whether in the public or private sector, this blog entry highlights the need for security when you’re not in charge of the environment.

In terms of the employee’s own environment you can add insurance implications and health and safety to elements of a workplace that will suddenly become your responsibility if you’re employing someone to work from somewhere other than your office. None of which means it’s not achievable but it needs careful contractual scrutiny and preferably an audit of who should work from home and who shouldn’t (my co-author’s company took the decision early on that in the presence of small children, a home environment simply wouldn’t work).

Different cultures around the world may or may not be having a break at this time of year. In the UK we certainly do, which is why there will be no new story on this site tomorrow or Monday. If your contacts don’t, then it’s useful to be able to keep in touch in case there’s an emergency – but for health reasons and to keep the workforce effective, it’s worth keeping work to a minimum.