Well-being at work in our overconnected age


Vincent Grosjean

Researcher in occupational well-being, INRS

Social sciences have shown that all social groups, all communities of people, create rules for themselves that tend to apply to all their members. That’s how work tools – mobile phones, instant messaging and videoconferencing systems – are ushering in new habits and adding to our mental loads. Then, as time goes by, those new habits and mental loads become the new normal, the standard everyone must abide by, no questions asked. Is it right to check your emails on a Sunday evening? To take a call halfway through a videoconference? To read emails during a meeting? Companies and other groups of people make unspoken choices. All you have to do is look at the answers your entourage has come up with for these questions – for example by staying connected 24/7, disconnecting for meetings, using email sensibly, etc. All this overlaps with psychosocial issues, such as rest-work cycles and keeping our private and professional lives separate. Companies need to strike a healthy balance if they want to stay in business for the long run and maintain their appeal. Laws on quality of life at work are prompting companies to sign agreements on the right to disconnect.

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But does anyone really believe that written rules can change ingrained habits? These rules are useful because they provide a baseline. But we need to step beyond them, adapt the rules to the specific demands of each job and aim to deal with each situation individually. That will take a new, more decentralised approach to labour relations. So what we need now are the places, times and mechanisms to discuss these habits. That’s the only way written rules will make any difference.

Amélie Kanagasabai

Forget one for all, I believe in all for all

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