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Younger workers believe they are being pressured into working longer hours in order to succeed at work, according to research by Ricoh UK.

Two thirds of young professionals in the UK said they stay late in the office in order to appear to be keeping up with their workload. Nearly half of the 1,249 surveyed said their bosses favour staff who work over their contracted hours. And 39% said they feel that working away from the office would harm their career progression.

Growing up as digital natives – with a unique experience of harnessing the latest technology and using it to improve their performance at work – today’s young professionals are equipped with skill-sets that have the potential to put the UK on the brink of becoming a true technological leader and innovator.

However, Ricoh suggests ‘presenteeism’, a term which traditionally referred to those who choose to work while sick or unwell through fear of superiors and/or co-workers questioning their commitment to their work, as one that now, with the rise of new technological trends, also accounts for those who feel that working long hours at their desk is necessary to impress the powers that be.

Phil Keoghan, CEO of Ricoh UK & Ireland, said: “Britain cannot continue to allow these outdated and analogue working practices to triumph in the digital age. We should be equipping new generations of young professionals with the latest technologies and enabling them with personalised flexible working plans so they can bring new skills to businesses.

“Despite the government introducing new legislation to grant every employee the legal right to request flexible working almost two years ago, it seems that businesses are still rewarding the idea that employees who work the longest hours at their desks - not those producing the best work - will be favoured by management.”

The findings also reveal that young professionals are calling for the government to do more to support businesses as they implement a more tech-enabled working culture, with nearly one in three (30%) saying that the government is performing poorly in its efforts to help people work flexibly.

Young workers also appreciate the relationship between digital skills and success, with nearly half (47%) calling for the government to connect employers with technology experts, and a third (31%) calling for it to provide grants and funding for the provision of new technologies to enable a more flexible workforce.

Mr Keoghan said: “As digital natives naturally accustomed to using mobiles and tablet computers for work and pleasure, young British workers are hit hardest by the impact of this old-fashioned working etiquette.

“We cannot risk letting the UK’s digital economy stall by failing to enable the next generation to embrace their own workstyles through technology. Only by freeing the country’s future leaders from the shackles of a ‘presenteeist’ culture at work can we truly foster wider innovation and positive change.”