Majority of New Zealanders check work emails during holidays

  • 18/03/2024

COVID lockdowns blurred the line between the home and workplace, and that line's been pushed even further with a new study finding the majority of Kiwis are using their holiday time to catch up on work.

The study by recruitment agency Robert Walters found 66 percent of New Zealanders regularly or occasionally checked their work emails during their annual leave. 

Appearing on AM on Monday, Robert Walters NZ CEO Shay Peters said there is a combination of reasons for people to keep in touch with work during much-needed rest and relaxation time. 

For some people, it is to avoid coming back to heaps of emails and having to catch up on what they missed after the holiday is over. For others, accessibility may play a factor.

"It's just so easy now to keep in touch... now we are all addicted to our phones or devices, it's just so easy to check in," Peters told AM co-host Lloyd Burr.

"Post-COVID, the lines between work and home life become so blurred that people are just morphing them into one."

The study also found 30 percent of respondents said they didn't feel refreshed after taking annual leave over the holidays. Twenty-nine percent said they felt completely refreshed, and 42 percent said they were "somewhat" refreshed. 

"I'm one of those people who over the years had become addicted to checking work emails and now I've become a lot more disciplined when I do it because it can heighten stress levels," said Peters.

"Those lines are blurred now. People are worried about personal lives encroaching on work, now it could be work encroaching on personal lives and so the whole dynamic's shifted."

However, it might not just be New Zealanders who are blurring these boundaries. In Australia, a law is being introduced that gives workers the right to ignore unreasonable calls and messages from their bosses outside of work hours. It is already a law in Austria, Chile, Argentina, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland and Italy. 

Under Australia's "Right to Disconnect" Bill an employer could be fined AU$18,000 if an employee successfully raises concerns regarding an employer's after-hours contact.