95% of employees attend to work messages outside working hours, according to a study by the UPF-BSM

  • The Business Leadership Observatory of the UPF Barcelona School of Management has conducted a study to analyze the digital detox in companies in Catalonia, which was presented today at PIMEC.
     
  • Digital detox is an essential labor right for health, as digital overconnectivity harms people's well-being and isolates them emotionally, the research concludes.
     
  • Conducted by Sílvia Cóppulo and Erola Palau, the research also shows that the accelerated implementation of teleworking following the pandemic has contributed to make digital disconnection impossible.

 

94.6% of employees attend and respond to professional communications outside their working hours. This is one of the devastating conclusions reached by the study Digital Detox, an Essential Labor Right for Health, carried out by the Business Leadership Observatory of the UPF Barcelona School of Management presented this Wednesday at PIMEC.

 "They are aware that digital connectivity can be detrimental to their health, but they feel compelled to maintain communications through electronic devices at all times," said Sílvia Cóppulo, director of the Observatory and co-author of the study, during a new meeting of the rework cycle of the employers' association.

See the study

76.8% of those surveyed admit that the first thing they do when they get up and the last thing they do before going to sleep is look at their cell phones. "The desire of these people is to be able to disconnect", said Cóppulo, who defended the need to "regulate digital disconnection, especially when teleworking or when working a flexible schedule". A reflection to which the people surveyed also agreed, with a score of 4.19 out of 5.

Impact of teleworking

The research, carried out with an equal sample of 608 people from 93 companies of up to 40 different occupational sectors, analyzes the situation of digital disconnection in companies in Catalonia and focuses, especially, on telework. The researcher of the Business Leadership Observatory and co-author of the study, Erola Palau Pinyana, has argued that remote work - assumed as an emergency solution as a result of covid - "has blurred the limits of time and space in relation to work". "Time, space and professional and personal tools are mixed," he added. In this sense, the Director General of the UPF-BSM, José M. Martínez-Sierra, has valued that "covid has broken all the logic of foresight and strategy of the companies, since they did not have established telework plans".

78% of respondents admit that the first thing they do when they get up and the last thing they do before going to sleep is look at their cell phones

The vast majority of those surveyed telework every day or a few days a week for more than 40 hours a week. Although it is true that, in general, all of them say they reconcile work and personal life quite well - a goal also shared by companies (63.2%) - most admit to suffering from "digital fatigue" and say they feel stressed because of the situation caused by the pandemic. "Teleworking is positively valued for the fact of not having to invest time in commuting", reflected Palau Pinyana, but warns that it is also "related to remote work with greater dedication and longer working hours".

Currently, and with the results of the research, the director of the Business Leadership Observatory has considered that telework "contributes to making digital detox impossible". "Digital communications are established in the professional environment at any time, outside working hours, on holidays and during vacation periods," she denounced.

Digital connection, emotional disconnection

In addition to the feeling of fatigue and stress, a large number of people, 42% admit that they sleep badly. In this regard, one of the elements highlighted by the study is the need to increase the perception that time must be available to carry out personal and professional life in a reconciled and differentiated way at the same time.

Despite the fact that practically all those surveyed believe that being digitally connected improves the possibilities of staying informed, more than half believe that it is bad for health, and 46.7% believe that it causes digital isolation. "A protocol on health-related aspects of digital disconnection must be included in a decisive way in the agreements between companies and workers," said Cóppulo, who has called for the implementation of technological formulas that help to achieve this.

Most people admit to suffering from "digital fatigue" and say they feel stressed because of the pandemic

In turn, the president of the Labor Commission of PIMEC, Josep Maria Puente, has highlighted the importance of promoting studies like this one to know precisely "how the much-needed regulation and establishment of regulatory frameworks has been carried out". Therefore, the entity states that companies should establish in their internal policy protocols on the use of digital devices outside the working day, as well as other flexibility mechanisms that allow them to adapt to the demands.

Thus, according to the results of the research, the co-authors have recommended "training and raising awareness of the need to rest and disconnect digitally, both with respect to health and in terms of business efficiency", since digital overconnectivity does not increase productivity, as the research concludes.

The co-authors recommend training and raising awareness of the need to rest and disconnect digitally, both for health and business efficiency reasons.

During the conference, practical and specific aspects of telework were also discussed from different perspectives, for example, with a summary of the current regulations on digital disconnection by the inspector of Labor and Social Security, Gerard Luján; and an assessment of the main psychosocial risks arising from overexposure to digital applications by the director of the Institut Català de Seguretat i Salut Laboral, Elena Juanola.

Finally, Òscar Armengol, journalist of the Economy Section of TV3 News, moderated a round table of experiences in which, in addition to the co-authors of the study presented, also participated the director of the Legal Department of PIMEC, Estrella Rincón; the municipal manager of the Barcelona City Council, Sara Berbel; and the CEO and Commercial Director of GD Aparatos, Imma Segarra.

Read Digital Pandemic, the article by Sílvia Cóppulo and Erola Palau