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Health-related potentials and risks of flexible working time and place - current state of research

(in German)

The relations between working conditions in modern knowledge society on the one hand and the health of employees on the other hand have become increasingly focused on science, the public and politics in recent years. Opportunities and risks, resources and stresses are close to each other. This report summarizes the state of scientific knowledge about the importance of flexible forms of work concerning place and time. On the basis of the results of scientific studies, it can generally be assumed that flexible forms of work concerning place and time act as stress factors and can be associated with negative strain. For example, mobility requires an additional effort which usually entails both organizational effort and additional time constraints as well as reduced rest periods. The results show that mobility requirements represent additional stress factors. In order to minimize mobility-induced stress, the framework of mobility should be designed as positively as possible and the intensity should be kept as low as possible. Positive framework conditions are e.g. levels of predictability, influence and control through participation as well as scopes in decision-making and time. On the other hand, high working intensity and high performance pressure have unfavorable effects. Extending the working time beyond 8 and in particular beyond 10 hours is accompanied by health impairments and safety-related risks. Depending on the activity and especially in the case of intensive workloads it can limit performance. The duration of the exposure determined by the working time must therefore be limited. As far as time flexibility is concerned, time autonomy is certainly a positive resource. However, scientific studies also show that, regardless of the framework conditions and the motivation of employees, there is a stress limit whose exceedance can lead to health and safety-related risks. Detaching from work has a positive effect on health as well as on the work-life balance. Work-related interruptions of the rest periods interfere with this process. The availability for job affairs in leisure time is one of these interruptions. Variable working hours should be well-planned and predictable, and should allow the employees high impact on the design of working time in order to reduce possible adverse effects on health and well-being. Unplanned flexibility often leads to conflicts between work and private life. Work-related demands during leisure time prevent efficient recovery and should therefore be regulated. Both in terms of spatial and time-flexible work design, the predictability and projectability as well as the influence of employees on the design have a positive effect on the development and processing of the load.

Please download the complete report "Health-related potentials and risks of flexible working time and place - current state of research" (in German only).

Bibliographic information

B. Beermann, M. Amlinger-Chatterjee, F. Brenscheidt, S. Gerstenberg, M. Niehaus, A. M. Wöhrmann:
Gesundheitliche Chancen und Risiken orts- und zeitflexiblen Arbeitens - Forschungsstand. 
1. edition. Dortmund: Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin 2018. 
ISBN: 978-3-88261-235-6, pages 46, paper, PDF file, DOI: 10.21934/baua:bericht20170905


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