Modern information and communications technology such as smartphones and tablet PCs is increasingly making its mark upon working life. The permanent reachability of workers, outside as well as during working hours, that results from these new technical developments is a topic currently the subject of much discussion. Research has however not yet been conducted into measures that could be taken to address the subject of permanent reachability. The present project studied what measures taken for this purpose have a positive effect upon worker well-being.
The stresses and strains to which workers with a high level of reachability are exposed were first identified in a company. Possible measures for addressing reachability were then selected. One of these measures was implemented in an intervention phase. The stresses and strains upon the workers were measured again in the post-intervention phase.
Based upon the results of a qualitative interview study into suitable means of addressing permanent reachability, the effects of greater reachability were studied in a number of companies. Reachable employees were compared to a control group comprising individuals who were not reachable for work-related reasons outside their normal working hours. Altogether, 146 employees participated in the study. Both objective and subjective measurement methods were used. In addition, partners of reachable employees were interviewed concerning possible impairments resulting from reachability.
Significantly more persons who are unable to recuperate are found in the group of reachable employees than in the group of non-reachable employees. The subjective sleep quality of the former is also poorer. The negative impacts arise irrespective of the motivation for permanent reachability, i.e. whether it is voluntary or imposed. They also arise irrespective of whether additional non-occupational stress arises owing to children living in the employee's household. The results can be explained by limitations in the processes of recuperation: permanent reachability results in recuperation processes being interrupted and/or their duration being reduced. In addition, reachability may lead to employees being unable to put sufficient mental distance between their work and themselves, and consequently not being able to switch off.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
work-related health hazards, mental stress factorsCatchwords:
evaluation, mental strain/stress, teleworkDescription, key words:
permanent reachability, mental stress, addressing reachability