Has the COVID19 changed your working routine and how can SmartWork support you in monitoring your health and wellbeing? – SmartWork asks older office workers

While the work on the prototype of SmartWork platform continues and summer season hits Europe, SmartWork talks with four representatives of its target group – older workers – about their health and wellbeing related to the shift to telecommuting during the times of pandemic. We are interested to know how working from home has affected their physical and mental health and if the digital solutions like SmartWork can practically support the older office workers in situations like the one with COVID19 now and in the future.

According to the study by European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), overall 37 percent of those currently working in the EU began to telework as a result of the pandemic. In some countries the percentage is even above 50%. Most of the workers are generally happy with the switch and plan to continue the telecommuting after the COVID19 crisis ends.

This week is exceptional as SmartWork reached out to a younger representative of the office workers, Andreas Raptopulos (37), who is a coordinator of the SmartWork project at BYTE.  During the discussion, we explored the new target groups for SmartWork and how the SmartWork services, regardless their initial focus on older workers, can support any geographically dispersed team, no matter the age of its members.

SW: Andreas, you told me that you’d never considered yourself as a home-office person and yet during the lockdown you were forced to stay at home and re-organise your working routine.

AR: Yes, I really like the office environment. Working in the office helps me distinguish between the working time and the free time. Also, the communication between the colleagues is much easier in the office. Now, during the lockdown the communication became more formal, structured, maybe even more bureaucratic. There were some periods when I spent the whole day on different kinds of online meetings and telcos. It was never the case before.

SW: It seems that the change was pretty radical. Did it influence your health and wellbeing?

AR: It was a bit difficult at the beginning, yes. I felt that my productivity was challenged. But then I learned how to concentrate, I reorganised my working space at home and I created a new working routine. I realised there are less distractions at home, my working day is a bit more flexible. However, I think I might have been more stressed during this period: the lockdown and the busy period at work put a lot of pressure and there was nobody to chit-chat with.

SW: Was the lack of social interaction the most difficult part of this whole experience?

AR: Yes. I like going to the office for that – to meet colleagues, have informal discussions etc. It helps me e.g. deal with stress. The remote communication makes sharing the experience or finding the solutions quickly more difficult. Also, the repetition of the routine was a bit challenging – during the lockdown your choices are limited, you cannot really move a lot. You wake up, you start working. You follow the same schedule every day.

SW: Do you think that the SmartWork services could help your or other office workers monitor their health and support them in those kinds of situations?

AR: Yes! It’s very probable that this will continue because of the second wave of COVID19. Most of  the companies have changed their structure and gone remote very quickly. Thus, tools like digiTeam, which support smart and flexible management of the workforce to increase efficiency and productivity, would be very useful. With them the employers could organise their virtual teams and monitor if things are going in the right direction.

SW: Is there something else you would see helpful?

AR: healthyMe! I myself don’t suffer from any chronic condition but I’d be very much interested to know my stress level and how it impacts my health currently. healthyMe, which monitors physiological and behavioural parameters would help me understand how I am doing. We live in a very stressful world right now, being bombarded with the news, being forced to change our routine and the self management tool like healthyMe could not only monitor our wellbeing but also give us advice and tips on e.g. physical activity and nutrition.

SW: It seems we’ve just identified the new target groups beyond the older office workers for the SmartWork solutions and the new markets!

AR: I guess so. I think SmartWork apps can help the employers to efficiently manage their teams and employees to monitor their health, no matter the age.

Read more about all SmartWork services on smartworkproject.eu/services/