Periodic components inherent in actual schedules of flexible working hours and their interference with social rhythms were measured using spectrum analysis. The resulting indicators of periodicity and interference were then related to the reported social impairments of workers. The results show that a suppression of the 24 and the 168 h (seven-day) components (absence of periodicity) in the work schedules predicts reported social impairment. However, even if there are relatively strong 24 and 168 h components left in the work schedules, their interference with the social rhythm (using the phase difference between working hours and the utility of time) further predicts impairment. The results thus indicate that the periodicity of working hours and the amount of (social) desynchronization induced by flexible work schedules can be used both for predicting the impairing effects of the specific work schedules on social well-being as well as for the design of socially acceptable flexible work hours.
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