Irish Examiner View: Negotiating the right to log off while working from home

Working from home
Irish Examiner View: Negotiating the right to log off while working from home
The risk of working from home is never having a break.

Earlier this month, foreign editor at Sky News, Deborah Haynes, was interrupted live on TV by her son, asking if he could have two biscuits.

His canny timing netted him two chocolate digestives, his mother said later, and the incident became one of many illustrations of how the barriers between work and home have become  porous during the pandemic.

The blurring of those lines has many upsides, including gains on commuting time and increased flexibility. Indeed,  83% of  7,000 Irish workers recently surveyed  said they would like to continue to work remotely, at least some of the time, when the crisis was over.

But there are also downsides. Switching off at the end of the day poses  challenges. So much so that  44% of home-workers  told an survey that they were now working longer hours.

The programme for government has promised to bring forward proposals on a ‘right to disconnect’ later this year.

They might look to AIB for inspiration. The bank has agreed a ‘right to disconnect’ policy with the Financial Services Union. It emphasises a worker’s right to be unavailable during breaks, outside of office hours, and also when they are on a day off. It is a forward-thinking step and one that we might apply more widely if we are to make some progress in regaining the work/life balance in our ‘always-on’ culture.

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