Research finds that ‘workend’ is the new weekend

  • Research shows 65 per cent of UK office workers have to work at the weekend to get the job done
  • Office workers could earn an extra £3,359 per year on average if paid for weekend work
  • Over a quarter of weekend workers have worked almost a full day (5-8 hours) on a Saturday
  • 9% have pretended they had worked at the weekend when they hadn’t

Full-time office employees are finding that their precious weekends are becoming the ‘workend’, according to new research by membership organisation Boundless.

A study of 2,000 full-time office workers has revealed that 65 per cent do extra work at the weekend, and would earn an extra £3,359 each year on average if paid for this overtime.*

The survey revealed that 82% of those polled have worked at least one weekend in the last six months, with over a quarter of those having worked almost a full day – between five and eight hours – on a Saturday (29%) and nearly a quarter working almost a full day on a Sunday (23%). One in ten said they worked a third of all weekends in the past six months.

With all these extra hours being completed by office workers, it is not surprising to discover that most didn’t think they were paid enough. Breaking this down, six in ten (60%) public sector workers didn’t think they are paid enough for their current job, while nearly half (46%) of private sector workers felt their pay was too low.

Commenting on the findings, James Robertson, head of marketing at Boundless said:

“There were significant differences between the private and public sectors in terms of reasons for working weekends. Overall, private sector workers saw weekend work as an opportunity to further their careers or enhance job security, whereas public sector workers were more concerned with workload and getting jobs finished.”

A third (33%) of public sector workers said they had no choice but to work at the weekends due to understaffing, compared to nearly a quarter (23%) of those in the private sector. On the other hand, twice as many private sector workers (8%) said they worked weekends to climb up the career ladder than those in the public sector (4%).

So why are people allowing work to eat into their precious weekends? Nearly a quarter (24%) of people said that although their boss didn’t expect them to work at the weekend, if they weren’t on top of things on Monday their boss wouldn’t be happy. Over half (53%) felt their boss had an expectation of them to work at the weekend.

A third of those polled (33%) said that Monday was a complete nightmare if they didn’t work at the weekend.

Overall, when asked why they worked longer than contracted hours, 43% of all respondents said it was the only way they could get their job done properly, while almost a quarter (22%) felt an expectation from colleagues.

When looking at the type of work completed at the weekends, emails were the main culprit with checking emails (59%) and responding to emails (54%) as the two top tasks.

Dispelling the myth that the weekend starts early on a Friday, on average people work an additional two hours on a Friday evening, meaning that the typical weekend doesn’t start until at least 7.30pm.

For those really trying to get on top of their workload ahead of the weekend, nearly a third (30%) of all workers stay in the office for an additional three to six hours on a Friday evening. Despite this, 40 per cent said they still couldn’t relax at the weekends even if they worked on Friday evenings.

Almost one in ten (9%) of people admitted they had pretended to have worked over the weekend when they hadn’t.  Interestingly, more than twice as many of those under 35 (14%) had lied about working at the weekend than those over 35 (6%). Almost twice the amount of private sector workers (11%) had lied compared to the public sector (6%), suggesting that career advancement is a greater motivator for working extra hours in the private sector.

On average, office workers believe it takes roughly an extra half a person to do their job each week, equating to an average of 19.5 additional hours required.

Explaining the findings on work-life balance, James Robertson commented:

“All this overtime at the weekends puts a huge strain on people’s work-life balance. Our research showed that that 46 per cent of public sector workers feel like their work-life balance is all wrong, compared to 39 per cent of those in the private sector.

“It is crucial that people maximise their spare time and make the most of it, or we risk work dominating our lives.

“In our research, most office workers chose to spend their spare time with friends and family, which is great to see, but nearly 40 per cent said their family or partner complains that they never switch off from work.

Discussing the research, James added:

“A good work-life balance is important for everyone. Boundless is a club that specialises in the ‘life’ side, helping people to do amazing things in their free time, and we wanted to see just how much work was affecting people’s free time, and how they could instead be enriching it.”


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*Based on an average of 4.98 additional weekend hours worked, using the UK average salary of £27,150.

Author: Editorial Team

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