The dynamics of teleworking: between work productivity and personal life

One of the effects of the recent pandemic has been the change in work models. Attendance is no longer the majority and teleworking and hybrid models that combine days of face-to-face work and days of teleworking have extended their incidence. Organizations have realized that this is an effective tool when performing a job.

Despite the relaxation of the measures, it is estimated that approximately 1 million Spaniards will continue in hybrid or telecommuting models. This generates benefits that are quickly perceived, such as travel and cost savings, time savings or facilities in reconciling family and professional life. But possible risks to people’s health are also identified.

Telecommuting and digitalization of life

The pandemic has digitized us; Given the lack of physical contact, we have turned to the digital connection. This is perceived in increase in users internet that had been increasing year after year.

At the work level, all those messages, meetings, even hallway conversations have been transformed into video calls, video conferences and emails. This has caused a negative aspect, the need to be constantly connected, the dependence on technologies to be effective at the work level.

The advantage of being able to work from anywhere and at any time can turn into a disadvantage. We must regulate the times in some way. In the face of rising stress levels, governments have even begun to regulate right to digital disconnection.

We are more stressed by the fact of being able to work at any time and by the difficulty of separating spaces and tasks. Before we had a place to work and another to live. For those who now telecommute, both places have been mixed. Being able to differentiate between family and professional time may be the key to managing the stress of telecommuting.

Similarly, the number of stimuli and distractions that may appear in our home can cause a loss of productivity. It is true that the pandemic and the obligation to transform face-to-face positions into teleworking positions did not allow time to plan the change. Now the opportunity arises to take advantage of the situation and turn teleworking into a useful, productive and, above all, healthy tool for its users.

How to avoid the main distractions and risks of teleworking?

In order to deal with the risks and distractions of teleworking, several tips and recommendations are offered that we should implement in our daily routine:

  • Work and personal life should have schedules. Exactly the same as when we go to a physical position in a company, when we work from home we also have a work schedule. Work at home or remotely must have defined schedules. We can make occasional exceptions, but the daily routine and defined schedules help keep stress at bay. Having a routine of work, leisure, meals and rest positively affects the body. An example of this are the Cardiac rhtyms. The negative effects on health of variables such as night shifts and rotating work shifts have been frequently studied. If we telework without schedules, our daily routine and our health can be affected. You have to prepare to work as if you were going to a physical office.

  • There must be a place designed to work. Labor demands demand working conditions that are different from the demands of the home. Therefore, a suitable work environment must be designed for the development of the work on-line. The work environment must be controlled (ventilation, lighting, noise, etc.). Also analyze the work space, postures, movements, postural changes (ergonomics). Setting different spaces, active breaks, task changes always helps. Telecommuters must be comfortable working.

  • Planning and personal contact. In teleworking, autonomy is considerably increased. That demands a greater effort in the planning of times and tasks. You have to be meticulous and avoid procrastination (postponing or postponing a job). On the other hand, that autonomy should not be confused with loneliness. Teamwork should be encouraged and opportunities to connect with co-workers should be used. Telecommuting is not synonymous with working alone.

  • Avoid sedentary lifestyle. One of the main consequences of teleworking is a sedentary lifestyle. The teleworker reduces commuting and has a less active life. This must be compensated with active breaks, increased sports practice and even improved nutrition (being at home can cause food to be neglected). One of the main concerns of the WHO is the proliferation of noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, etc. They are already responsible for 71% of premature deaths globally.

  • Identify work and personal priorities to better organize time. The demands of the job must be met for the teleworker and their environment. The mind needs care. Knowing what generates stress (work, social networks, ICTs, etc.) is as necessary as identifying and practicing what allows you to free yourself from it (sports, reading, dancing, etc.).

Ivan Fernandez SuarezProfessor in the master’s degree in Prevention of Occupational Risks at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR) and prevention consultant for Fraternidad-Muprespa, UNIR – International University of La Rioja

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.

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