How does one feel when the boundaries between work and leisure disappear?
The Swedish Transport Administration is investing four million crowns on a project where researchers from the University of Gävle are going to investigate which risks occur when the boundaries between work and leisure are disappearing more and more.
Technology gives us freedom
For the coming four years researchers from the University of Gävle will examine the workplace culture at the Swedish Transport Administration authority, with the focus on charting the advantages and disadvantages of always being `connected´.
Also included in the study will be the evaluation of various solutions for managing inadequate recovery and constant `availability´. All 6500 employees will have to fill in a questionnaire regarding the disappearing boundaries between work and leisure – being on call 24/7 - and how it affects them.
Helena Jahncke who leads the project sees several advantages with new technology that mean that one can be more flexible in one’s job, both as far as working hours and choice of workplace are concerned.
“There is a sense of freedom in being able to organise the work day so that it suits the family situation and that one can, for example, take a job in another area and still manage the work-life balance.”
Recuperation – in short supply
At the same time it is a fact that stress-related ill health is on the increase and researchers want to investigate to see if there is a connexion between the boundless work situation and various health issues.
It is also important to find out what one can do to manage and prevent the risks.
“We think that one missing link is that there is an imbalance between the periods of work and periods of recuperation. Therefore we will chart how often and when one is on-line regarding work, plus how one feels about it,” says Helena Jahncke.
“Our focus will thereafter be on accumulating proposals for action that can be implemented and evaluated. It is important that we do not get a development where one works continuously and gets no time for recuperation,” she continues.
International studies show that there is a correlation between work that takes place outside of normal working hours and muscular-skeletal diseases, psychological ill health, stomach upsets and cardiovascular disease.
“We shall be following a selected group of employees over time and examine things such as sleep, levels of stress-enhancing hormones, time taken for leisure activities and how they themselves feel. This is to be able to take effective and appropriate actions,” says Helena Jahncke.
For further information:
Helena Jahncke, PhD in Environmental Psychology, researcher at the University of Gävle
Tel: 026-64 81 24, 070-231 01 39
Text: Douglas Öhrbom