Are you working from home, perhaps due to coronavirus restrictions at your workplace? Do you check your work emails from home? Answer business calls on your day off? Or even maybe just catch up on some office admin when you’re at a loose end?
If so, you could be doing damage to your health!
Occupational health problems
If you work on a building site, with agricultural equipment or spend your days underground as a miner, you’ll be well aware of the health risks and dangers these positions pose.
If you work in an office, on the other hand, and maybe take some work home with you from time to time then the worst thing you probably expect is maybe knocking a cup of tea over yourself or a particularly nasty paper cut.
However, a study of 57,000 people by the German-based Society for Labour, Industrial and Organizational Psychological Research has found that over half worked above and beyond their contracted hours and in doing so left themselves susceptible to an array of complaints including; headaches, anxiety, insomnia and tiredness.
In some cases, stomach problems, muscular complaints and cardiovascular issues were also linked to out of hours working.
Rest and relaxation
The authors of the study go on to argue that the ‘always on’ culture that is being espoused by many office workers is robbing people of valuable recreational time – time in which the body needs to naturally refresh and recuperate.
The report read: “Information and communication technologies, such as computers and smartphones… have the potential benefit and the potential inherent danger of making it possible for employees to be available any time and anywhere.”
And not only does this change the way we work, adding more hours to already busy schedules, but it also change the way we relax, socialise and interact with people – you only have to look at a living room of people all busy on devices to see how it affects our ability to relax and interact.
The report added: “Free time should be free time, otherwise it must be expected that it cannot fulfill functions of recovery and recuperation. Our findings indicate that even a small amount of supplemental work beyond contractually agreed work hours can lead to health issues.”
“The correlation is very strong.”
High level intervention
Strong words. And so serious is the problem thought to be that some larger companies, and even some governments, are now raising concerns about the effects of mobile working.
For instance, car manufacturer Daimler has installed software on employees’ computers that automatically deletes emails if they are away on holiday, while Deutsche Telekom has banned the sending of emails outside of working hours.
The French government has recently introduced rules to stop employers sending emails outside of working hours and the German government is considering doing the same.
What do you think? Is working outside of your normal hours bad for your health?