Sure, that extra cup of coffee during your afternoon break seemed like a good idea at the time, but if you’re lying awake at 3 am unable to sleep, you may soon be regretting that decision.


Research shows that even the most diligent of people who get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night can still wake up feeling groggy and tired. The reason behind the heavy eyelids often comes down to sleep saboteurs.


This is certainly reflected in the data we found in our recent study of 1,000 Australian white-collar workers. We saw an outbreak of poor quality sleep and fatigue among Australian office workers, with the majority reporting their sleep quality had suffered in the past year.


While a lot of that came down to bad flexible work habits and the stresses of COVID-19, we also found that people's sleep could be suffering due to common sleep saboteurs.


With the rise in alcohol sales over the last 12 months, more than three in five (62%) white-collar workers revealed that they drink alcohol in the evening as a way to disconnect from work and to help fall asleep.


“It’s a common misconception that a night cap helps you get a good night’s sleep,” ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher says. “It might help you fall asleep, but because alcohol is a diuretic, you’ll need more toilet wakes during the night and you’ll get less deep restorative sleep as a result.”


It may make us feel drowsy as the night goes on, but the effect of alcohol actually hinders our sleeping. Drinking alcohol may cause you to fall asleep faster but in actuality you have more awake periods and less REM (rapid eye movement) sequences even if you have a glass or two in your system.


Our study also found a concerning reliance on caffeine, with more than two thirds (70%) of white-collar workers saying they need coffee to be productive and get through the day with one in five saying (19%) saying they drink it well into the evening as well.


“There’s nothing wrong with caffeine, and everyone has different tolerance levels, but it’s best kept for when you need a boost of energy and you should aim to have your last one no later than 4pm,” Dr Fletcher says.


While asking people not to consume caffeine or alcohol is both unrealistic and unecessary, it's important to know how these things can affect your sleep.


The Eclipse Subscription Service is a great suite of resources for anyone wanting to know more about getting better sleep.


Find out how the Eclipse Subscription Service could help your business.


“We’ve found progressive leaders are quick to recognise the link between high-performance teams and a healthy sleep culture – and that culture starts with education and empowerment,” Dr Fletcher says.


Based on decades of applied research and practical training across a range of industries, businesses and government agencies, Integrated Safety Support has channelled that knowledge into online training courses and smartphone applications that are simple to deploy and integrate into the modern workplace.



You can read our research featured in the AFR here (full article access):

AUSTRALIAN-FINANCIAL-REVIEW-2Download

You can access the media release featuring all of the results of our research here:

Flexi-fatigue-ISS-research-1Download

Our new study of 1,000 white-collar workers has found an outbreak of poor quality sleep and fatigue among the majority of Australian office workers, but this was particularly stark for workers under 25.


The research found a lack of dedicated workspace for workers under 25 had some significant knock-on effects. They are twice as likely to work from their bed (55%) or bedroom (56%) than over 25-year-olds (bed 23%, bedroom 28%). Gen Z office workers were also far more likely to have forgone fresh air (Gen Z 55%, 25+ 42%), skipped meals (Gen Z 49%, 25+ 39%) or work in their PJs (Gen Z 48%, 25+ 32%).


“Working in your pyjamas or from the comfort of your bed might seem harmless, but they’re some of the most common actions that blur the boundaries between work and home life for flexible workers,” ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher says.

There were some positive implications for Gen Z’s though, with almost half (47%) taking the opportunity to nap during the day, compared to over 25-year-olds (28%).

“Working from home can be particularly difficult for younger workers, who often don’t have a dedicated workspace or live in shared houses with lots of distractions,” Adam says.

“We recommend communicating with family and housemates to set clear boundaries around work and personal time, whether that’s scheduling who’s working from the kitchen table, or agreeing to take calls in a separate room to keep noise down.”

Education the key to sleep empowerment


Find out how the Eclipse Subscription Service could help your business.


“We’ve found progressive leaders are quick to recognise the link between high-performance teams and a healthy sleep culture – and that culture starts with education and empowerment,” Dr Fletcher says.


Based on decades of applied research and practical training across a range of industries, businesses and government agencies, Integrated Safety Support has channelled that knowledge into online training courses and smartphone applications that are simple to deploy and integrate into the modern workplace.

What we know is that engaging and easily applicable tools are more vital than ever. We created the Eclipse Subscription Service because we know that fatigue can be a daunting problem to tackle, especially for office workforces that haven’t had to address it before. We created it to ease the stresses of the modern workplace, to make hybrid work easier to balance and to address inequalities in wellbeing by empowering through knowledge.


You can read our research featured in the AFR here (full article access):

AUSTRALIAN-FINANCIAL-REVIEW-2Download

You can access the media release featuring all of the results of our research here:

Flexi-fatigue-ISS-research-1Download

Bad flexible work habits during the COVID-19 pandemic have created an outbreak of poor quality sleep and fatigue among Australian office workers, our new study of 1,000 Australian white-collar workers has found. The majority of office workers reported their sleep quality had suffered in the past year, with increased fatigue and an inability to separate work and home life causing major issues with productivity, particularly for women and under 25s.


You may have seen our new research referred to in the recent Australian Financial Review article 'One in five women get less than six hours sleep a night' – but it goes much further than that. We'll be detailing our findings specific to young people, women, alcohol and caffeine in future posts.


Find out how the Eclipse Subscription Service could help your business.


ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher says the research shows business leaders needed to take sleep more seriously.

“Sleep issues and fatigue can have a severe impact on employee health and wellbeing, contributing to burnout and even mental health challenges,” he says.


“Unfortunately, not enough business leaders are taking responsibility for creating a healthy sleep culture with their teams. By supporting flexible work, businesses are essentially setting up an office in their employees’ homes, so its critical they put the training and processes in place to create healthy work-life balance.”


“Fatigue in the workplace is a shared risk ­– both to safety and performance – so it's also a shared responsibility amongst management and their teams to create conditions that support healthy sleep, improve productivity and minimise fatigue.”


The Integrated Safety Support study of Australian white-collar workers revealed


The challenge of separating work and home life for flexible workers was stark, with more than one in three checking emails right before bed (38%), working in their pyjamas (35%) and even working from their bed (31%). The bad habits didn’t end there either, with more than two in five working all day at home without going out for fresh air (45%) or skipping lunch or other meals while working (41%).


“Working in your pyjamas or from the comfort of your bed might seem harmless, but they’re some of the most common actions that blur the boundaries between work and home life for flexible workers,” Dr Fletcher says.


“Instead, we recommend our clients maintain healthy morning and bedtime routines, like manufacturing a commute by taking a morning walk while listening to a podcast, or packing up your desk and putting your mug away at the end of the day, to signal the end of work.”


“One positive work from home behaviour our research identified was that almost one in three (31%) said they had taken a nap during the workday. A 10 to 15-minute nap is a great way to re-energise during work time, delivering measurable benefits, including improved short-term memory, better performance, improved alertness and faster reaction times.”


Education the key to sleep empowerment


“We’ve found progressive leaders are quick to recognise the link between high-performance teams and a healthy sleep culture – and that culture starts with education and empowerment,” Dr Fletcher says.


Based on decades of applied research and practical training across a range of industries, businesses and government agencies, Integrated Safety Support has channelled that knowledge into online training courses and smartphone applications that are simple to deploy and integrate into the modern workplace.

What we know is that engaging and easily applicable tools are more vital than ever. We created the Eclipse Subscription Service because we know that fatigue can be a daunting problem to tackle, especially for office workforces that haven’t had to address it before. We created it to ease the stresses of the modern workplace, to make hybrid work easier to balance and to address inequalities in wellbeing by empowering through knowledge.


AUSTRALIAN-FINANCIAL-REVIEWDownload
Flexi-fatigue-ISS-researchDownload

Australians are inundated with confronting horror stories about the dangers of speeding and drink driving, but fatigue is a major contributing factor that often slips under the radar when we talk about road safety.

This year, during National Road Safety Week 2021, we want to focus on the dangers of drowsy driving, because we know that it can be just as dangerous as any other form of impairment. In fact, the National Road Safety Action Plan says that "fatigue is four times more likely to contribute to impairment than drugs or alcohol". TAC found that driving while tired is a contributing factor in between 16-20% of all road crashes in Victoria.

This is especially true for those in the Australian transport industry, as drivers are often faced with the risk of fatigue during lengthy and irregular shifts. Long hours, insufficient downtime between shifts and unpredictable work schedules can impact a driver's ability to get good quality sleep.  

As our roads return to pre-covid congestion levels and the reliance on road freight continues to grow, it's time for the transport industry to focus on building more positive sleeping cultures to keep workers safe. With lives genuinely at risk, combatting fatigue and building productive sleep cultures using evidence-based training and the latest technology should be a top priority for all transport executives.

Whether or not you're in the transport industry, drowsy driving is a massive problem that we all need to do our part to combat. 37% of people admit to driving while tired, don't be one of those people if you can avoid it.

Did you know that the total cost of inadequate sleep in Australia was estimated to be $66.3 billion in 2016-17? This is about $8,968 per person affected in both financial and wellbeing costs.

We all know that fatigued employees can present serious safety risks to themselves, to fellow employees and to customers, we know that the financial costs incurred from fatigue-induced workplace accidents can be huge – but we don’t talk enough about all the other costs associated with workplace fatigue.

We’ve broke down some of the many flow-on costs of having a fatigued workforce below, but it’s important to remember that none exist in isolation. A fatigued employee is one that is not only less safe, but is also less reliable, less innovative, less productive, less creative, less easy to work with and less happy.

We want people to be safe, but we also want to empower employees to do their best work. We created the Eclipse Subscription Service to holistically address this issue. It’s a cost-effective solution that can deliver a measurable impact to the bottom line for businesses – lowering absenteeism, increasing staff retention and positively impacting productivity.

1. Staffing capacity changes

When employees are feeling exhausted or burned out, you are likely to experience more unexpected and unexplained absences from work. This can impact your organisation in a number of ways:

2. Employee turnover

Workplace fatigue may lead to more significant employee absences in the form of termination or resignation. In addition to the side effects noted above, you also have to invest time, money, and resources into the recruitment process.

3. The cost of a toxic workplace

As people deal with fatigue, they tend to become more irritable and less empathetic. Without the ability to remain calm, patient, and understanding of what’s happening all around – not just with co-workers, but with customers too – you may find your workplace corrupted by fatigue-induced toxicity.

4. Drops in innovation

Workplace fatigue can also take its toll on your team’s ability to be innovative. When problem-solving, creativity, or ingenuity factor heavily into your employees’ job descriptions, you can’t afford to have something like fatigue and sleeplessness compromise that.

4. Customers losing faith

You also have to worry about how much of this workplace fatigue spills over into the customer-facing side of your business. Even if they are not directly exposed to employee absences, turmoil within your ranks, or rampant mistakes – customers will sense that something is up.

Human workforces have been at the core of our purpose at Integrated Safety Support for the past 15 years. We were founded to translate the complex scientific knowledge of occupational alertness and fatigue management into practical solutions for the workplace.

Over the past few months, we’ve been on a bit of a listening tour. We’ve speaking with our long-term clients, a gaggle of trusted experts and our wonderful team, and we decided it was time for an evolution.

Much of the workforce is fully distributed, Zoom fatigue is part of our vernacular, and some industries are dealing with more pressure than ever before. We spent the summer taking stock of the ways in which workplaces have changed.

But now, we’re ready to hit the ground running. We think the industry is ready for a little positive disruption… and that’s why we’re so excited to formally announce our new product offering.

It’s called the Eclipse Subscription Service!

We’ve distilled our experience working successfully in almost every industry across the globe into a suite of systematic online training resources and smartphone apps.

We listened, and that’s why we’re launching the Eclipse Subscription Service. It drives higher performance by developing a deeper understanding of healthy sleep, mental health, productivity and safety​.

The Eclipse Subscription Service can also deliver a measurable impact to the bottom line for businesses, lowering absenteeism, increasing staff retention and positively impacting productivity.

Integrated Safety Support is reshaping the fatigue management and operational alertness industry by taking the conversation beyond the causes and impacts of fatigue and providing real world solutions that give participants the opportunity to thrive in their workplace.

Please contact us today to find out more about how the Eclipse Subscription Service could help your team.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruptions to the way we conceptualise work has brought questions around the ‘future of work’ to the forefront for many of us. Will the women who quit their jobs to home school their kids re-enter the workforce? Is the workplace flexibility that many of us have enjoyed here to stay? Is work-life balance as a concept even relevant anymore?

I came across a new research paper on the ergonomics and human factors contributions to date to the field of research inquiry known as the ‘future of work’, so I thought it would be good to break down what the researchers found.

1. The paper lists the mega trends shaping the future landscape of work as incorporating: technological advances, including AI and automation, co-bots and collaboration and ICT developments; labour market demand, including the gig economy, insecure work and skill requirements; labour market supply, including skills shortages and demographic changes; and environmental change, including climate change and resource scarcity.

2. The impact on work of technological advancements is not limited to concerns around automation.

Indeed, the focus of the broader research literature in this field is on the more general application of new technologies and how they are changing the way we work, where we work, and how much work we do. This research tends to focus on the wellbeing issues arising from an ‘always on’ culture and the growth of flexibility and particularly distributed working, the gig economy and casualisation.

3. Jobs and workers are increasing in their variety and that workers will be expected to expand their job skills.

There is much emphasis in future of work discourses and in the education sector on the need for workers to continually update and expand their skills in order to be agile in the changing world of work, and to expect multiple careers rather than working within a single sector as was usual in the past.

4. The populations of Western countries are ageing while workforces have increasing numbers of older workers, and this has become a major trend impacting economies and the workplace.

Workforce ageing is a huge challenge for those involved in the ergonomics and human factors space to ensure work systems and products and services are fit for the older population, accounting for the changing capabilities, limitations and aspirations of older people.

5. Flexible work arrangements are here to stay.

Working from home has many apparent benefits, including potential productivity increases, enhanced wellbeing, providing better balance between work and non-work time, giving greater opportunity for women and those with care responsibilities to engage in paid work, enhancing autonomy and satisfaction with work, reduced time spent commuting, organisational resilience and the environmental and social benefits of reducing fossil fuel omissions and inner-city congestion. However, flexible working also brings potential challenges, including an increased likelihood of social isolation and work family conflict where such arrangements are not well scheduled and managed. Indeed, remote working in particular has been associated with concerns around the blurring of spatial and temporal boundaries between work and non-work. These concerns have, of course, come under increasing public attention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read the research paper here.

A story from last year over staff fatigue at Caledonian Sleeper (a Scottish long-haul passenger train line), highlighted to us the need to go beyond minimum compliance when it comes to managing operational risks, delivering good customer service, and looking after staff.

A report by Dr Paul Jackson concluded that Caledonian complied with health and safety laws but its “approach to fatigue management could be improved” and recommended a “change in culture”.

ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher emphasised that this story reiterated his belief that rules and regulations can only do so much. “Being compliant with laws is critical and necessary, but these sorts of situations reinforce that you’ve got to go beyond compliance to actually properly identify and manage risks,” he said.

The report was commissioned after members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) to staged multiple 48-hour walkouts, which forced the cancellation of some services. Staff voted to take action after operator Serco refused to allow them to use spare cabins for rest breaks during shifts which can last more than 16 hours.

The report said staff breaks should be extended beyond one hour on longer routes, rest areas improved and the working of multiple nights on end be reduced.

Dr Jackson highlighted faults with the new Sleeper fleet as a major cause of extra staff stress, especially when they had to find alternative cabins for arriving passengers at short notice. "It was clear that the extra workload arising from factors outside crews’ control causes unnecessary stress. A poor start to a long night duty,” he said.

“The other point here is that for service staff, we actually want them to give good service, we actually want the customers to be happy – and one of the things we know is very sensitive to sleep loss is mood. So, if it’s really important to have high quality customer experiences, then it’s really important to go beyond the minimum compliance of the laws. If you want someone to be really fresh, alert, friendly, sensitive to people’s needs, then they’re going to need proper rest,” Adam says.

The union said: “It shows fatigue has been an issue for years but has been allowed to fester, staff are reluctant to report fatigue for fear of victimisation, and train faults are rife, which adds to the stress.

Caledonian Sleeper managing director Ryan Flaherty said: “When some of our employees raised concerns about fatigue, we brought in an independent specialist to conduct a risk assessment on our services. His report clearly concludes that not only is Caledonian Sleeper operating within all regulations."

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, “being compliant with laws does not make something safe,” Adam says.

You can find out more about this story here.

One term that’s become a hot button issue over the last year (and really over the last decade) is burnout. We’re not experts in burnout at ISS – but we do know how important it is to open up conversations and help people be more informed on the topic. We also know that many of the contributing factors to burnout overlap with contributing factors to fatigue.

Last year the World Health Organisation (WHO) reclassified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”. It defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. The WHO characterises burnout by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.

Sleep

Messed up sleep is a significant contributor to burnout, just like time of day and shift work can be contributors to burnout. We know that the 24-hour day and the circadian system can have a big effect on how easily you get fatigued or burnt out, “there’s a big extra challenge if you’re working particularly at times when you might normally sleep,” ISS CEO Dr Adam Fletcher says.

Stress

Burnout is essentially a stage we get to when we’re experiencing prolonged periods of chronic stress, just like fatigue is a stage we reach when we’re experiencing chronic lack of sleep. But somewhat unlike sleep, stress is extremely personal, sensitive, and subjective, “I can have the same stresses on different days and have very different responses,” Adam explains.

Work demands

We often think of burnout as an individual problem, solvable with simple-fix techniques like “learning to say no”, more yoga, better breathing, practicing resilience. Yet, evidence is mounting that personal, band-aid solutions are not enough to combat an epic and rapidly evolving workplace phenomenon. Not only is it about personal mental health, but about workplace demands. Adam pointed out that man of the work demands that contribute to fatigue can also contribute to burnout. “Long hours of work, unreasonable demands of productivity, workload that’s consistently too high because of in adequate resources or the wrong mix of resources, these can all add up to someone that is either fatigued, burnt out, or both,” he says.

Again, we’re not experts on burnout at ISS, but because it is such a personal experience with personal contributing factors, it really warrants having an approach that isn’t off the shelf or generic. There’s a strong argument for a scenario where you really need to personalise the care and support, because the same variables and demands for different people, or even the same people on different days, can have different results.

Get started with the Eclipse Subscription Service

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