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.
  • Richard Mitry on 17/07/2015 8:36:07 PM

    There are some great benefits, during appropriate hours, to instant email access from smart phones. Sometimes, when away from the office for hours at a time (for instance if in court all day) this may allow a lawyer to stay abreast of emails and avoid having to remain back after hours trying to catch up.

    However the difficulty I see is where there appears to be an expectation, of employers and of clients and colleagues, that practitioners are always "online". If there is any genuineness about the concept of work life balance it should be expressly made acceptable to turn emails off out of work hours.

  • Paul Rogers on 23/06/2015 11:22:12 AM

    Life as a Senior Law Academic has changed with the 24/7 access expectations of students & university hierarchy. The concept of a online immediate access to academic support is a workplace issue with stress levels rising and research outputs dropping.
    expectations are driving a false reality that will eventual crash like a House of Cards.

  • Dingo on 18/06/2015 11:58:02 AM

    I went back to NOKIA 710. Problem Solved.

  • Old Fogey on 18/06/2015 11:24:57 AM

    It's been a long time (well before the advent of "smart" phones or even mobiles that would fit in pocket) since I've worked "regular office hours" between 9 & 5 - are we talking about the legal profession here? I don't recognise the description!

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