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When the pressure of being always-on takes a toll

By Open Mic, Open Mic



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December 14, 2020 | 4 min read

Agencies and clients are contacting one another more often since lockdown, new data from leading relationship management company Aprais shows.

Coffee always on

But there is no evidence that checking in on a more frequent basis improves the quality of the relationship between client and agency. Other key takeaways include:

  • There has been more frequent contact between clients and agencies in the second half of 2020
  • Working from home and lockdown could be creating temptation to be always accessible, with employees reporting they are working longer hours
  • Quality of interactions is more important than quantity

In fact, the pressure of being always-on could be detrimental to overall wellbeing as 80% of Brits report working from home has been bad for their mental health, according to data from Nuffield Health.

Figures from Aprais’s database of more than 22,000 agency-client evaluations show that in the first half of 2020, 36% of clients contacted their agencies just one to three times a month.

Aprais1 Dec

43% checked in one to three times a week, and just 20% touched base every day.

In the second half of 2020, 34% of clients contacted their agencies every day, with 47% checking in one to three times a week. The percentage touching base just one to three times a month dropped to 19.

The same is true of agencies contacting their clients. In the first half of 2020, 31% of agencies spoke to their clients every day. In the second half, this had increased to a whopping 50%.

Aprais2 Dec

Despite this increase in contact frequency, analysis of scores given by agencies of their clients and vice-verse do not show much, if any, change.

Kim Walker, chairman of Aprais, said: ”The increase in contact frequency is almost certainly a result of lockdowns and more people working from home.

”Perhaps the more interesting finding is that while online tools have made us all more accessible and available, an ‘always-on’ culture doesn’t seem to translate into improved client-agency relationship scores.”

While there are advantages to agencies and clients checking in with one another, including improved resilience as highlighted by Aprais earlier this year, it would seem that it is the quality, not the quantity, of contact that is important.

Increased contact could even be leading to a culture of round-the-clock availability and the pressure of being always-on can lead to fatigue and burnout.

The Nuffield Health study mentioned above and many other similar studies highlight the potential risks of an ‘always-on’ culture. Data from NordVPN Teams found employees are working at least two more hours a day since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NHS guidance on working from home recommends setting and sticking to a routine, taking regular breaks and switching off at the end of the working day.

In line with this guidance, Aprais has required all staff to take an online course to help staff adapt to the pressures of working from home. Other recommendations include adding lunch hours to their work diaries and incorporating scheduled 15-minute breaks. Staff are also advised not to access emails at weekends or late at night.

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