A new report from the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found that working remotely can lead to insomnia and increased stress levels.
The study, titled Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work, analysed the working habits of people from the UK, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan and the US.
It made distinctions between three groups of workers: those who work from home regularly, “highly mobile” employees who work in various locations away from the office and those who split their time between the office and home.
All three groups were found to be more prone to negative health and wellbeing consequences than employees who either always or regularly worked in an office.
“This report shows that the use of modern communication technologies facilitates a better overall work-life balance but, at the same time, also blurs the boundaries between work and personal life, depending on the place of work and the characteristics of different occupations,” said the ILO’s Jon Messenger, who co-authored the report.
It found that 42 per cent of highly-mobile and regular home workers dealt with insomnia, compared with 29 per cent of regular office workers, and 41 per cent of highly-mobile workers complained of stress, as opposed to 25 per cent of office workers.
“It is particularly important to address the issue of supplemental work performed through modern communications technology, for example additional working from home, which could be viewed as unpaid overtime, and also to ensure that minimum rest periods are respected, in order to avoid negative effects on workers’ health and wellbeing,” said Oscar Vargas from EU living and working conditions body Eurofound, which was also behind the report.
The ILO recommends addressing the disparity by promoting formal part-time remote working, which would help employees maintain relationships with their co-workers, and by cutting back on informal ICT-mobile work.
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