Is the 24/7 work culture damaging your health?

Our 24/7 work culture can affect wellbeing, study suggests

It’s no secret that we are living in an always-on world. With wireless internet, smartphones, tablets, and now wearables, we are increasingly connected to the internet, which means that we’re also increasingly connected to our work, as well as leisure activities like social media.

Over the past few years, the competitive market and a changing idea of how work functions in our lives has led to many people working more than ever before, with cross-platform apps and email access helping to facilitate this – but is our 24/7 work culture good for our wellbeing, both at work and at home? A new study by German scientists has suggested that working too much, and not having space from your work life, can be bad for your health.

What are the results of this study?

The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Hamburg in conjunction with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aimed to find out more about the relationship between employees working out of traditional office hours and stress, fatigue, and wellbeing. It found that workers who continued to check their work email or engage in work-related activities after work, particularly when at home or with their family, experienced stress, depression, and fatigue on the following morning at work. They also found higher levels of a stress-related hormone called cortisol in subjects that had continued to work at home.

The main takeaway from this study is that continuing to engage in work-related activities at home, like finishing projects or checking emails, decreases what is called ‘psychological detachment’ from work. This means that you are never disengaging from your work, and this can have serious consequences for your health and wellbeing at work the next day, and in general, especially when considered over a long period of time.

What does this mean for health?

The results of this survey show us that working too much is not good for our health and wellbeing and that we need to take regular, extended breaks from work in order to maintain a healthy mind and body. You can read more about the study here.

How can leisure and exercise help?

By allowing yourself time to exercise, perhaps before work, at lunchtime or on the way home, not only do you give yourself some valuable ‘me’ time but you allow yourself to disconnect and engage with your activity. Other great ways to do this include joining outdoor sports clubs or going to the theatre, all great excuses to put that phone down and make a new connection.