Corona’s consequences .. Have the lines between work and personal life faded?


Before the pandemic in 2020, there were moves to help maintain healthy working lives around the world. Because technology is increasingly blurring the boundaries between home and work, to the point that many receive work emails 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These conditions have led to calls around the world for “right to leisure” laws that could protect employees from having their free time and vacations invaded.

And according to what was published by the New Atlas website, after the emergence of the emerging Corona virus, large sectors of the workforce in the world were forced to work from homes. While the ability to switch to working from home is undoubtedly a privilege afforded by new technology, a growing body of studies and research is finding that this massive shift to remote work has led to longer hours and greater challenges to the ability to separate work and home life.

Work from home

“People’s experience of working from home during a pandemic varies widely depending on their jobs, home conditions and, crucially, the behavior of employers,” explains Andrew Bucks, director of Prospect research at the British Labor Union, adding that “it is clear that for millions of [الموظفين]Working from home was like sleeping in the office, where remote technology meant it was difficult to stop working completely, contributing to poor mental health.

Prospect research, conducted in early 2021, found that about one in three British employees find it difficult to leave work, who also reported working more overtime than before the pandemic. Other studies, conducted around the world, have found similar results.

An Australian survey of academic professionals, conducted at the end of 2020, revealed that there are significant rates of out-of-hours work contacts, with 55 per cent of people sending work emails in the evenings. One in five employees said they have supervisors who expect responses to out-of-hours calls and correspondence.

Psychological stress and physical symptoms

Amy Zadoo of the University of South Australia stated that comparing the groups that received work calls outside working hours and those who were not exposed to the same situations, there were higher levels of psychological stress (70.4% compared to 45.2%) and emotional exhaustion (63.5% compared to 35.2%), as well as reported physical health symptoms, such as headaches and back pain (22.1% compared to 11.5%).

Researchers at Harvard Business School conducted a study of anonymous meeting and email metadata from 3.1 million people. The data covered urban areas in North America, the Middle East and Europe and compared pre-pandemic levels with numbers collected during lockdown periods.

The researchers found “significant and lasting increases in the length of the average working day” with regard to remote work during epidemic prevention measures, as email activity increased and the total number of meetings increased, despite the decrease in average meeting length.

“Consistent with the general pattern of more meetings and more emails, our results also indicate that virtual communication has spread beyond normal business hours,” the researchers said. “The only way to achieve more communication was to work for longer days. Even with reduced meeting time,” the researchers said. The work demands brought about by the pandemic, along with personal demands, which are always on hand, may make it difficult to fulfill obligations within normal working hours.”

“The right to separate work, life and personal”

Laws protecting employees from being required to communicate outside working hours have grown in popularity in the wake of the pandemic-induced shift to remote work. In early 2021, the European Parliament called for the right to cut off contact to be clearly defined in EU law.

Alex Agios Saliba, Member of the European Parliament, led the call to declare the right to separate work and personal life as a fundamental right for all EU workers. The proposal is designed to protect workers from “discrimination, criticism, dismissal or other negative actions by employers” when pressured to engage in work-related tasks outside of clearly defined working hours.

Agios Saliba says: “The right to cut off communication [في غير ساعات الدوام] It is vital for mental and physical health. [وأنه قد] It’s time to modernize workers’ rights to match the new realities of the digital age.”

Slovakia went one step further, amending its labor law earlier this year to include the right to disconnect after working hours, while Argentina passed a similar law, prohibiting employers from requiring workers to contact them outside working hours. The Irish Workplace Code of Practice included a new right to allow an employee to separate his or her work and personal life.

the other opinion

Of course, not everyone finds it a good idea to enact laws that give the right to separate personal and work life. Lynne Shackleton, an economist from Buckingham University, says that restricting working hours may lead to employers imposing strict control over their employees during working hours, and ensuring their productivity rates,” which in turn means that “a lot of flexibility, which was provided by work From home, which allowed some to go to the supermarket or pick the kids up and make up that time at work later will fade.” “Employers will want to know why they don’t answer a phone call or answer an email,” Shackleton explains. [خلال ساعات الدوام].”

Over the past year, the demand for employee monitoring software has skyrocketed. One report revealed that interest in surveillance software grew by 55% in June 2020 compared to pre-pandemic averages. These programs can include logging keystrokes, monitoring instant messages, or even sending notifications to admins and managers if keyboards are left idle for too long.

And Andrew Beaks says that pushing for the right to disconnect from non-working hours does not mean workers should accept invasive digital monitoring practices. What needs to happen now, he says, is that workers’ rights need to be rewritten clearly and comprehensively as our ways of working change dramatically.

“There is a need to put in place appropriate legal frameworks around the ability of employers to monitor their employees and use their data for their own purposes,” Pax says. “This step needs to be done now, because it is much easier to protect freedoms than to restore them once they are lost. The pandemic has changed many things, but He cannot be allowed to limit work without employees having the right to express their opinion on the changes to be made.”

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