The daily working life of many employees requires the use of modern information and communication technology (ICT) devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. The double-edged nature of digital work environments has been increasingly highlighted. Benefits such as increased flexibility come at a personal cost. One of the potential downsides is workplace telepressure, i.e., the experience of urge and preoccupation to quickly reply to work-related messages and demands using ICT. There is initial − mainly survey-based−evidence that workplace telepressure may have negative effects on a variety of wellbeing and health outcomes.
Aims and hypotheses
Adopting the Effort-Recovery Model and the concept of allostatic load as theoretical frameworks, the present study aims to investigate the hypothesis that workplace telepressure is significantly associated with increased “wear and tear”, in the form of more psychosomatic complaints, worse sleep quality (self-reported and actigraphy-based), worse mood, and biological alterations (lower cardiac vagal tone, lower anabolic balance defined as the ratio of salivary dehydroepiandrosterone to salivary cortisol, and higher salivary alpha-amylase). Additionally, the study aims to investigate the hypothesis that connection to work defined as work-related workload and work-related perseverative cognition plays a significant role in the mediation of these relationships.
To test our hypotheses, we will conduct an ambulatory assessment study with a convenience sample of 120 healthy workers regularly using ICTs for job communication. For one week, participants will be asked to complete electronic diaries assessing their level of workplace telepressure, psychosomatic complaints, sleep quality, mood, work-related workload, and work-related perseverative cognition. They will also continuously wear the Bittium Faros 180L ECG monitor, the wrist-worn actigraph MotionWatch 8, and perform saliva sampling five times per day.
This study will be the most comprehensive ambulatory investigation of workplace telepressure and its psychophysiological concomitants to date and constitutes an important step towards understanding how high levels of workplace telepressure may lead in the long term to secondary alterations (e.g., hypertension, chronic inflammation) and disease (e.g., heart disease). The findings of this study are also anticipated to contribute to guiding the development and implementation of interventions, programs, and policies relevant to employees’ digital wellbeing.