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Editorial: Crossing time zones

Over the past decade, we have seen the dramatic shift in the lifestyle of young people who now have more choices when it comes to work or play.  Those who graduated last March, for instance, have more options than say, their counterparts ten years ago. With the rise of the BPO industry or the home-based online service providers, young people today earn more but have to work in a different time zone.  This disturbs the normal waking and sleeping patterns which certainly affects the health of this new generation of employees in the virtual world.There are studies that show disrupting the natural rhythm of our bodies, such as working night shifts, may cause mood disorders and cognitive problems. Call center agents who work the night shift may thrive for a certain period of time but not for long.

A research by an international team led by University of Glasgow psychologist Laura Lyall at the medical journal Lancet Psychiatry, linked interference with the body’s “circadian rhythm” to lowered cognitive functions such as memory and attention span. The study said that the brain’s hard-wired circadian timekeeper governs day-night cycles, influencing sleep patterns, the release of hormones and even body temperature.

The BPO industry has grown to be the second dollar earner for the Philippines and is regarded as a priority by the Philippines Development Plan.  Data from the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), show that export revenues have increased from US$1.3 billion in 2004 to a total revenue of US$ 25 billion in 2016, employing about 1 million Filipinos and projecting about 1.3 to 1.5 million jobs in the next three years.

How are we going to take care of our new breed of workers? If the government provides tax holidays and incentives to BPOs, are there measures or safeguards for the employees whose holistic health might be compromised by the unnatural waking and sleeping hours?

A robust economy is important to the health of the nation. So is proper rest.


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