Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stress: Physical Conditions

In the last byte, we looked at the various interpersonal demands that could act as a potential source of stress. In today's byte, we look at how the physical conditions in a work place could act as a source of stress.

It would be a personal experience for almost all of us - invariably when we are tiered having worked for a long time on something, and it someone else asks for something we shout back! This is a common experience and shouting is a reaction that expresses the stress our body has had.

Such stress would be higher if the individual has been working in an environment that doesn’t have a conducive atmosphere - say a temperature that is non ambient (could be working close to a furnace for long hours!), an extremely crowded space where lot of people are cramped and working on the production process etc. Such inhuman working conditions are the reason why factories with such harsh conditions are called "sweat shops".

It is important to realize that the physical demands of work are often occupation specific. In the case of military pilots who fly high-speed jets, the risk involved would be of gravitationally induced loss of consciousness; in the case of CEOs who globe-trotter pretty frequently, would complaint of jet lag and loss of sleep. All these form sources of stress that evolve out of the work environment.

In the more common IT scenario, an ergonomic misfit between the person and work place would lead to stress too - the forms could be eyestrain, neck-stiffness and arm/wrist problems etc. So it’s time that we look back at these factors and think of improving the work environment to reduce physical stress.

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