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Total workload and recovery in relation to worktime reduction – a randomized controlled intervention study with time-use data
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2276-8147
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Objectives: A 25% reduction of weekly work hours for full-time employees has been shown to improve sleep and alertness and reduce stress during both workdays and days off. The aim of the present study was to investigate how employees use their time during such an intervention: does total workload (paid and non-paid work) decrease, and recovery time increase, when work hours are reduced?

Methods: Full-time employees within the public sector (N=636; 75% women) were randomized into intervention group and control group. The intervention group (N=370) reduced worktime to 75% with preserved salary during 18 months. Data were collected at baseline, after 9 months and 18 months. Time-use was reported every half hour daily between 06 and 01 a.m. during one week at each data collection. Data were analyzed with multilevel mixed modeling.

Results: Compared to the control group, the intervention group increased the time spent on domestic work and relaxing hobby activities during workdays when worktime was reduced (p≤0.001). On days off, more time was spent in free-time activities (p=0.003). Total workload decreased (-65 minutes) and time spent in recovery activities increased on workdays (+53 minutes). The pattern of findings was similar in subgroups defined by gender, family status and job situation.

Conclusions: A worktime reduction of 25% for full-time workers resulted in decreased total workload and an increase of time spent in recovery activities, which is in line with the suggestion that worktime reduction may be beneficial for long-term health and stress.

Keywords [en]
total workload, recovery, worktime reduction, gender
National Category
Work Sciences Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148571OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-148571DiVA, id: diva2:1153677
Available from: 2017-10-31 Created: 2017-10-31 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. How to work for a good night's sleep
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How to work for a good night's sleep
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Stress and sleep problems are common in the working population and cause considerable costs for society. Sleep is the most important part of recovery, and poor sleep has a negative impact on overall functioning, which might have important consequences for both the employee, the employer and society. In order to find strategies to alleviate this contemporary public health concern of stress and poor sleep in the working population, this thesis evaluated interventions performed at the workplace to target these issues.

The first intervention is a randomized controlled trial of a 25% work time reduction for full-time workers within the public sector in Sweden. Study I evaluated the impact of work time reduction on subjective sleep quality, sleep duration, sleepiness, perceived stress, and bedtime worries. Assessments included diary data from one week at three occasions over 18 months. Study II investigated time-use patterns through activity reporting sheets used during the work time reduction by evaluating the amount of total workload, paid work, non-paid work and recovery activities. Both studies investigated workdays and days off separately as well as the importance of gender, family status and work situation (only Study II). The second randomized controlled intervention of the thesis is a group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention at the workplace targeting sleep disturbances among employees within the retail sector in Sweden (Study III). Data were collected through questionnaires, diaries and objective sleep measurement (actigraphy) over a period of ten days before and after the intervention, as well as at a three-month follow up. The study evaluated the effects of the intervention on sleep and explored the moderating effect of burnout-levels at baseline.

In our studies, an economically fully compensated reduction of work hours for full-time workers lead to long-term positive effects on sleep duration and sleep quality, sleepiness and levels of perceived stress. During this work time reduction, the total workload of both paid and non-paid work was reduced and time spent in recovery activities increased. The results indicate that a more balanced relation between effort and recovery was established. The second intervention, which targets the individual through a group CBT-intervention for insomnia at the workplace, was shown to improve insomnia symptoms in daytime workers who did not suffer from concurrent burnout. Such an intervention could support the individual in handling sleep problems and preventing the development of more severe and chronic sleep disorders, as opposed to interventions aimed at making environmental changes at the workplace. However, the CBT-intervention evaluated within this thesis will need to be further developed in order to be beneficial for more groups of employees. The positive effects of these interventions might be beneficial for public health and help improve employee’s life satisfaction, daily functioning and health development.​

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS), Stockholm University, 2017
Keywords
Intervention studies, Sleep, Insomnia, CBT, Work time reduction, Interventionsstudier, Sömn, Insomni, KBT, Arbetstidsreduktion
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Public Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148576 (URN)978-91-7797-059-0 (ISBN)978-91-7797-060-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-15, rum 207, Stressforskningsinstitutet, Frescati Hagväg 16 A, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-11-22 Created: 2017-10-31 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved

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Schiller, HelenaLekander, MatsRajaleid, KristiinaÅkerstedt, TorbjörnKecklund, Göran
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