Smartphones causing overtime epidemic

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Smartphones are causing lawyers to work longer hours, increasing workloads and destroying a healthy work life balance, a survey released by the Law Society of Scotland has found.

The survey found that most respondents received emails after work hours, with the majority commencing work before nine and finishing after five.  The research also found that lawyers felt there was an expectation on the part of their clients and their employer that emails would be answered instantly.

“Feelings of not being able to switch off and being permanently tied to the office were commonplace,” the report stated. 

Access to work from home, particularly on devices with push notifications caused the biggest problem for lawyers.

“Generally, respondents felt that this had impacted upon their ability to completely ‘switch off’ from work, and felt that it allowed work to invade their personal life,” the report explained.  “Others felt it had become too easy to ‘quickly check’ emails and they felt there was pressure to respond immediately.  Some also expressed either a preference of compulsion to ‘just quickly address minor tasks in an attempt to ‘get a head start’ for the morning.”

The Law Society noted that an effective response to the ‘always on’ mentality was to require staff to switch off at certain times, including while on annual leave.

Many lawyers said that the amount of overtime they were doing made them feel exploited, with many wishing they could return to regular office hours.