The smart working fatigue? It exists indeed, at least according to the Italian university professors and researchers who participated in the survey conducted by the Departments of Psychology and Statistics of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan. After ten months of working remotely, the balance is not smart at all: the most frequently reported experiences range from psychosomatic symptoms, to anxiety, to the perception of a reduction in the quality of life. And, again, the decrease in free time and while the extension of working hours seems out of control.
Two out of three respondents feel a profound invasion of technologies in their lives, with a use exceeding six hours a day for the majority of the sample, including weekends and holidays or, in any case, during the hours considered before after work. One in two respondents report spending an average of more than four hours per day on communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype or Teams. The widespread sensation of invasion of the field is striking, the interference between private life and working life was reported by the majority of respondents (55%) engaged in redefining personal balances.
And if, as noted by the Bank of Italy, the so-called agile work has proved protective for a large area of employment, unplugging it seems to have become difficult for most smart workers, at least in the academic field. 67% perceived that their personal life has been attacked by technologies and the percentage exceeds 80% of those who spend more than eight hours a day online, also taking time away from self-care. 51% reported never exercising in the past four weeks (or at most once or twice), 53% altered their eating habits by seeking consolation in food. 36% regularly engaged in activities such as yoga, pilates or meditation. As for psychosomatic symptoms, 66% experienced frequent muscle tension, 61% mood swings and sudden irritability, 55% had difficulty falling asleep, with much higher percentages than those less exposed to communication technologies and platforms. Furthermore, one in two participants complains of impaired vision and even voice. Finally, 62% reported concentration difficulties.
The research points out that these psychosomatic disorders do not appear to be associated with pre-existing problems, since about 90% of the participants report being in good health. Furthermore, online fatigue does not appear to be related to gender, age and academic role, and is not associated with the levels of involvement and dedication to one’s work, which are very high throughout the sample. Despite the inconveniences, the majority of participants continue to feel proud of their work (84%) and to consider it rich in meaning and objectives (73%).
The psychophysical resilience of the Italian academic population, still little to the attention of the media and institutions, it is observed, seems to have been severely tested by these months of remote work. and decay of the general state of health), with negative consequences also on the relationship with students who, in turn, must be supported. According to Andrea Bonanomi, head of research, it is necessary for institutions to take responsibility for promoting correct workplace hygiene, raising awareness of the risks associated with the intensive application of remote working, which is less and less smart and increasingly home-working. And by identifying the appropriate prevention and treatment measures for online fatigue. These current ways of working, while offering many and different opportunities, require not only juridical-institutional regulations, but also an individual responsibility for the adoption of sustainable and healthy styles.