Emirates

Remote working with 'always-on' culture leads to mental and physical health challenges

Remote working with 'always-on' culture leads to mental and physical health challenges

Dubai: Employees around the world including the UAE say that remote working has blurred the line between work and home life, reveals a new global research.

The research also suggested that employers in the UAE should restrict technology overuse to counteract remote working mental health pressure and allow employees to better manage their physical health. The insights, commissioned by Aetna International from over 4,000 workers across the US, UK, UAE and Singapore, highlight the ‘digital dilemmas’ businesses now need to manage with employees, especially in relation to remote working.

There was clear agreement from UAE workers who took part in the survey in March that technology can play a positive role in improving mental and physical health. Some 86% stated that it enabled them to manage workloads better, meaning less stress, and 82% agreed that it provided more time to exercise. In terms of country comparisons, UAE workers were most likely to acknowledge the health benefits that technology could enable.

Always-on culture

However, even with these benefits, employees acknowledge concerns over an ‘always-on’ work culture. A substantial number (72%) felt remote working blurred the line between work and home life with 68% responding that they felt it increased the pressure to respond to work outside of office hours.

David Healy, CEO — EMEA, Aetna International, said: “Our research shows there is a very clear opportunity for businesses to harness the positive power of technology to help support and improve employee health and well-being. However, as we do so, it is vital that we acknowledge that an always-on culture is simply not compatible with mental or physical well-being.”

Physical health

Not surprisingly, the research shows that many UAE workers would welcome the introduction of a business policy to manage technology and screen time overuse, with over three quarters (79%) feeling it would help them to manage physical health better and 75% believing it would support their mental health. According to the study, over 44% of employers did not have any guidance in place to deal with this tech overload.

Recent events have forced organisations across the world to re-evaluate how they are helping their employees to manage their physical and mental health.

“This is the most important opportunity in living memory to change the way we all work for the better. Business leaders everywhere should seize this chance to excel as far as company culture and employee health and well-being are concerned,” said Healy.

Time to reassess tech policies

“As restrictions in the UAE begin to lift, I would encourage employers to set the bar high when planning their approach to employees’ health and well-being support. Now is the perfect time to reassess the technology and policies you have in place and to make a positive commitment to integrate humanity, compassion and trust into your corporate culture,” noted Healy.

Key findings of the research:

•85% of UAE employees stated that technology enabled them to manage workloads better, meaning less stress and 82% agreed that technology provided more time to exercise

•79% of UAE workers would welcome the introduction of a business policy to manage technology and screen time overuse to help them to manage physical health better with 75% saying the same about mental health

•72% of surveyed UAE employees felt remote working blurred the line between work and home life

•68% responded that they felt it increased the pressure to respond to work outside of office hours