Twenty four hour working people

Do you work at night? Well, according to Bye Bye Nine to Five (BBC News: Business), by 2020 around 50 per cent of us will be "economically active at night".

Why is this happening so much now and why is it probably going happen more in the future? Well, there are basic two-sides to the argument for night working - business meeting the demands of consumers and the demand for "flexible" working patterns. There are no prizes for which lobby is the strongest.

Have you ever worked at night and I don't mean the odd late session or all-nighter? Nightwork usually involves 8-12 hour shifts for a minimum of four nights every week. I once worked nights for a year and whilst I enjoyed the benefits of 30 per cent extra pay and the satisfaction of getting into bed when everyone else was going to work I just knew it wasn't good for me in terms of health.

That was a long time ago now, but it is still worrying to know that health experts continue to warn of the dangers of nightworking despite its appeal for certain people. Indeed, not only is nightworking supposed to higher the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic disorders; a further warning is that only 10-20 per cent of us can ever successfully adapt to night work.

Clearly, there is a genuine demand for a certain amount of people to work at night, i.e. to provide the necessities but not luxuries. My only conclusion is that the current business policy of viewing customer as king is fine in one sense as it creates new opportunities for all, etc. However, look below the surface and a significant player in that approach is suffering - i.e. the workers who are coerced and seduced into ruining their health.

Next time you want to know your bank balance at 4.30 a.m. or order something on-line mid-afternoon expecting it to be at your house or business the very next morning, think of the people who will do all this whilst you are usually asleep. And if you can't don't then go complaining when the nation's bill for health keeps rising.


Anonymous said...

I work a seemingly random shift pattern, including night shifts and weekend working. During the next eight days I will be working:
Monday: 1030-1800
Tuesday: 0700-1430
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: 1230-2100
Saturday/Sunday: 1900-0800
Monday: 1430-2300

I long for proper night shifts, such as normal people work . . .

James said...

Point taken - I shouldn't have used the word "usually". Thanks for the point you made.