Studie IZA und Xing: Grenzen zwischen Arbeit und Freizeit lösen sich zunehmen auf © Sommer und Lee Maas

Work and leisure distinctions changing, survey finds

Shifting boundaries between work and leisure - survey by IZA and Xing

Employees in Germany spend more than six hours of their free time on professional activities every week. Conversely, more than four hours of formal working time are spent on private tasks, according to a new survey by Xing and the Bonn Institute for the Future of Work (IZA) as part of the survey “Working in Germany”.

Nur jeder Fünfte trennt Arbeit und Freizeit strikt voneinander
Work and leisure barely separated anymore. © IZA

Only one in five separates work and leisure

Digitalisation is creating new possibilities for adapting working hours to individual needs. On the other hand, the boundaries between work and leisure time are shifting increasingly, the IZA/Xing survey found. Only every fifth employee draws a clear distinction between work and leisure. Around 64 per cent of 1,859 employees aged between 25 and 54 surveyed said they undertook activities such as replying to official emails in their free time. Four out of ten employees spend more than two hours a week doing so.

Die Grenzen verschwimmen
Boundaries are shifting increasingly. © IZA

Two thirds of employees do private work during working hours

Two-thirds of respondents said they sometimes did non-service activities such as online shopping or answerng or writing private emails during their working hours. Around 36 per cent spend more than two hours of their weekly working time on private tasks. Overall, just under half of those surveyed had a balance between professional activities in their free time and private activities at work. According to the IZA/Xing survey male employees tend to do official work after hours or private business at work more frequently. The difference to female employees is six percentage points in both cases. Employees under the age of 35 spend around eight hours – almost twice as much free time on work as older employees aged 45 and over.

Need for more trust between employer and employee

Hilmar Schneider, Manager of IZA , who presented the results at the Xing event New Work Experience 2019 (NWX) in Hamburg, said mixing work and leisure makes it difficult to define and record overtime. “The trend in the digital working world is towards working hours based on trust, but also towards lump-sum payments for overtime,” said Schneider. Companies and employees are being asked to deal responsibly with the newly gained flexibility and to find needs-based solutions that benefit both parties.

Sources and further information:

IZA/XING survey

The “Working in Germany” survey was launched by the Institute for the Future of Work (IZA) and Xing in early 2017. The third wave of the survey was completed in early 2019 to gain new insights against the background of the changing world of work. The two-part IZA/Xing study consists of a representative online survey with around 2,000 participants and an online survey of up to 6,000 randomly selected Xing members.

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