Technology now enables us to work from anywhere and at any time. While this flexibility has brought numerous benefits, is this always-on environment actually helping or hindering our work performance?
New research discussed by Onrec has revealed that the majority of British workers are suffering from sleep deprivation and stress.
CV-Library and sleep neuroscientist Professor Jim Horne questioned 1,300 workers about sleep and the workplace, and found that over a quarter (27%) said they feel exhausted on a daily basis.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than three quarters (77%) admitted that a bad night’s sleep has a negative impact on their working day.
Worryingly, it seems the office may be causing the sleep deprivation, as 74.5% of respondents cited workplace stress as the main cause of their disrupted sleep.
While stress-related sleep disruption was found to have an impact on emotions, cited by 92.5%, sleep deprivation also affects an employee’s ability to stay focused (72.7%), deal with challenging situations (46.5%), and make important decisions (34.2%).
Commenting on the findings, Professor Horne explained: “Most work situations require individuals to make critical decisions, remain focused and complete tasks within a timely and efficient manner. However, it’s clear from these findings that sleep loss can impair attention to detail amongst workers.”
With stress and sleep deprivation so rife among British workers, it is perhaps not surprising that a recent Gallup poll, reported on by CIPD, revealed that just 11% of UK employees feel engaged at work while 21% are actively disengaged.
While there are undoubtedly numerous factors impacting engagement, Jane Sparrow,
co-founder of The Culture Builders, explained to People Management that “we are also driving ourselves harder and harder, but we are not as productive as we used to be because we are always on.”
So, what can employers do?
Even though the technology may exist to enable employees to be contacted 24/7, companies should prioritise work-life balance. Productivity isn’t increasing as a result of working all the time, so employers need to lead by example and enforce policies that make sure staff are getting enough ‘down time’.
Professor Horne also suggests implementing flexible and remote working to allow employees the choice to work from home if they’re suffering from sleep deprivation, and also encouraging staff to take breaks and refresh themselves with fresh air.
With work-related stress costing the EU around £17bn a year, Dezeen also believes break-out pods will become key features of the office, providing staff with a quiet space to collect their thoughts.