This week is Ergo Week at Cardinus and we’ll be sending you an interesting article from our recent ergo magazine everyday this week along with a link for a free trial of one of our e-learning courses.

Our first article by Dr. Christine Grant at Coventry University focuses on handling the opportunities, pressures and prejudices of working anywhere. To request a free copy of the magazine click here.

The psychology of homeworking

Technology is an enabler; it allows us to communicate with whoever, whenever and wherever we like. It is revolutionising work. In fact, e-working, sometimes called teleworking or smart working, is now one of the most common methods of working in Europe and the USA.

Working remotely ties in with the deregulation of work activities, whereby many jobs have become mobile and released from one centralised workplace. However, the option to ‘switch off’ from work is often neglected; many individuals do not consider the possible impact on their physical and mental health of being permanently ‘switched on’.

Research indicates that technology provides many benefits including flexible working hours and helping us to manage better the sometimes conflicting pressures between our working and non-working lives. Research also indicates that for employers, productivity and staff job satisfaction are likely gains of e-working.

Organisations are often keen to encourage access to technology, enhancing collaborative working through shared networks, and we generally enjoy feeding our obsession to be constantly connected. Smartphones, remote access to email and networking can enhance our work experiences, being able to contact people out of hours or staying in touch with work through breaks can reduce stress levels and serve to reduce the post-holiday backlog.

But working constantly can turn into an obsession, whereby individuals are unable to slow down and remove themselves from work. Those who are already workaholics may find that technology further feeds an existing obsession with work. Addiction can also be driven by the technology itself and its constant availability can be a hook.

The expectation of managers and colleagues can be that employees are always available to answer their requests at any time of day or night. A survey of e-workers revealed that while they enjoy the benefits of working remotely, for some this can lead to overworking, burn- out, tiredness and sometimes low feelings. Tiredness will lead to errors and sending a work related email at midnight after a glass of wine or two is rarely a good idea.

Social isolation needs to be considered. Staying in touch with colleagues and building relationships may be more difficult without occasional physical presence.

Experienced e-workers focus on coping strategies to manage the continuous influx of information. They know how to harness both their own expectations and those of sometimes over-zealous colleagues. Understanding the boundaries between work and non-work and to compartmentalise these aspects can also help to manage the blurring between work and home.

A lack of time to recuperate fully from work could lead to stress levels being retained for longer periods. Stress is already known to cause physical problems, including heart disease, through increased cortisol levels. Sitting behaviours are also being researched now and many e-workers report strain on their wrists, back, shoulders and necks which can lead to more serious musculoskeletal disorder problems.

Looking after our well-being when remote working is increasingly important and managing our minds and bodies may be taking second place to the pull of technology. A new tool is available that measures the impact of remote working on work- life balance, job effectiveness and well-being.

Cardinus provides e-learning and risk-assessment specifically aimed at homeworkers. You can view and try the Safety for Homeworkers risk assessment and e-learning  by clicking here.

If you would like a free trial of the Safety for Homeworkers course with up to 5% of your employees call 020 7469 0200, or complete the contact us form.

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