Health and psychosocial effects of flexible working hours

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether any impairments in health and social lives can be found under different kinds of flexible working hours, and whether such effects are related to specific characteristics of these working hours. METHODS: Two studies - a company based survey (N=660) and an internet survey (N=528) - have been conducted. The first one was a questionnaire study (paper and pencil) on employees working under some 'typical' kinds of different flexible working time arrangements in different companies and different occupational fields (health care, manufacturing, retail, administration, call centres). The second study was an internet-based survey, using an adaptation of the questionnaire from the first study. RESULTS: The results of both studies consistently show that high variability of working hours is associated with increased impairments in health and well-being and this is especially true if this variability is company controlled. These effects are less pronounced if variability is self-controlled; however, autonomy does not compensate the effects of variability. CONCLUSIONS: Recommendations for an appropriate design of flexible working hours should be developed in order to minimize any impairing effects on health and psychosocial well-being; these recommendations should include - besides allowing for discretion in controlling one's (flexible) working hours - that variability in flexible working hours should be kept low (or at least moderate), even if this variability is self-controlled.

Work hours; Occupational health; Questionnaires; Research; Internet; Working conditions


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