Why it's harder than ever to switch off from work

By: John McGarvey

Date: 3 December 2013

TV switching off{{}}Finding it hard to switch off is not a new phenomenon for business owners.

When you put your heart and soul (not to mention your savings) into something, it’s understandably hard to stop thinking about it — even if it’s the weekend, your holiday or an important family event.

To some extent, that’s just the way it is, and the way it’s always been. Most people know the score when they start their company.

But a new report from Lloyds, Big issues for small businesses (PDF link), has found half the UK’s microbusinesses and sole-traders believe they now work harder than ever. And they think technology is at least partly to blame.

Keeping up in an instant world

The spread of laptops, tablets and smart phones into nearly every aspect of our lives has enabled us to stay connected with our businesses, even outside of working hours.

But as connectivity has improved, it seems customer expectations have sharpened too. Around nine in ten (87%) of business owners surveyed believe that providing a quick response to enquiries is critical to securing new business.

30% feel under pressure to stay constantly connected, just in case they miss out on a lead. And 70% worry that neglecting their online presence puts them at risk of being left behind.

Totally dependent on technology?

If you hadn’t realised it already, the report confirms that many microbusinesses rely on technology completely in order to stay afloat. With all its advantages and drawbacks, technology is here to stay.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a source of anxiety. 46% of respondents worry about knowing how to use the latest communication channels. For 28%, just trying to keep up with the latest devices is a worry.

The consequences of all this are predictable. Nearly half (47%) of the business owners surveyed said they’re unable to ever switch off from work completely. Two in five are working longer hours to keep up.

Wasn’t new technology meant to give us more spare time, not less?

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