Networking survey finds working long hours endemic

Flexible working allows networking professionals to manage their work-life needs - but over half are still working more than 48 hours a week

The network industry is experiencing dramatic change in the way work is being done, according a new report. The ninth Black Box Network Industry Survey in April 2002 investigated trends for network professionals in relation to job prospects, job security and overall trends in the workplace.

Of the 201 network professionals interviewed, up to half work hours in excess of the limit of an average of 48 hours a week outlined by the European Working Time Directive with 6 percent claiming to work in excess of 60 hours a week.

Richard Ryan, director of Revelation Research, who conducted the survey on behalf of Black Box Network services, said, "This is in line with general trends in the workplace. More people work longer hours as there is a lot to be done in the day against an expectation of greater efficiency, and with the majority of network budgets either static or cut."

The survey reported that remote working continued to grow over the past year with 80 percent of organisations providing remote access to their employees, as they increasingly recognised the benefits of providing employees with flexible working structures.

"It has long been known that flexibility increases productivity because it allows people to balance their work-life needs more effectively," said Ryan.

Despite the security risks, 70 percent cited the benefits of providing employees with flexible working as the primary reason for providing remote access. However, half the respondents said that they employed software to filter or block unsuitable sites, and 80 percent were able to track users' Web activity.

When asked about future prospects and job security, most networking professionals were positive in relation to promotion and career enhancement. Only 13 percent felt less secure in their jobs than a year ago, and only 8 percent felt negative about the future.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in May relaunched its work-life balance site with advice on implementing work-life balance policies and practices.

In March, Microsoft won an award for being the company with the best work-life balance in the UK. The software giant is recognised for encouraging its employees to limit the time they spend at work and keep their evenings free. There is a 9-5.30 club that gives 10p to the NSPCC as a reward every time they work these hours.

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