Are smartphones killing your staff?

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Staff with smartphones work up to two extra hours a day – but before you hand them out to every man and his dog, it may not be good news for your company. Research has found that being connected 24/7 could be damaging workers’ health.

Almost two-thirds of office workers said they continued working after they left the office, on average working almost two and a half hours extra, according to a recent survey from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP). This is on top of the average six hours spent in front of a computer at work.

A third of respondents said they had too much work to do and the same amount said they did extra work to “ease the pressure of the working day”. And it seems middle managers aren’t easing the workload; while more than half said their workload had increase in the last two years, just 8% said their bosses were doing anything about it.

Unfortunately, studies have shown those who work three hours or more extra a day have a 60% higher risk for heart disease, according to a University College London study.

"This study raises further questions about how our working lives can influence our risk of heart disease,” Cathy Ross, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said.

"In many ways it confirms what we as occupational health doctors already know - that work/life balance plays a vital role in well-being,” Dr. John Challenor, from the Society of Occupational Medicine, said. “Employers and patients need to be aware of all of the risk factors for coronary heart disease and should consider overtime as one factor that may lead to a number of medical conditions."

And there are plenty of non-fatal risks of smartphone overuse, the CSP warned. Physiotherapists are seeing an increase in neck strain that they’re blaming on the poor posture while using smartphones and other mobile devices.

“A healthy workforce is a productive one, so businesses that fail to invest in the wellbeing of their staff are pouring money down the drain,” Dr. Helena Johnson, chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said. “Sickness absence can be devastating for the individual and very expensive for the employer,” Johnson added.

She suggested regularly checking with staff about their workload and whether they’re working from home, as well as advising staff on healthy use of mobile devices. Users should be taking frequent breaks to stretch their neck and back, and holding their phone higher to keep their neck in alignment with their spine, she said.

 

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