Police officers, security guards, nurses, dock workers and truck drivers. These are examples of people who work at night. "We should cherish these people because we cannot do without them," says labor sociologist Fabian Dekkers of Erasmus University Rotterdam in conversation with Dutch newswebsite NU.nl.
There are health risks associated with working at night due to the disruption of our biological clock. Yet there are 1.3 million night workers in the Netherlands, some of whom consciously choose to work at night. In his book Vergeten Beroepen: leven en werken als nachtwerker (translation: Forgotten professions: life and work as a night worker) Fabian Dekker talked to dozens of people from eight different sectors to find out why these people choose to do so.
"It's often about health and social problems. The unions and occupational health and safety services would prefer to get rid of night work. But some of these night workers indicate that there are many advantages to working in the dark. For some, it makes work-life balance easier," Dekker says.
It's contradictory, of course, says the labour sociologist. On the one hand, a worker runs many health risks by working at night. "The work also gets harder as you get older. But on the other hand, there are many benefits. Night workers report finding back their job satisfaction that way."
One of the benefits Dekker cites is the increased workload during the day. "There is an enormous pressure on people. Also, with raising children, ill family members and the tightness in the job market, which means you get a bigger work load. That's why we face a lot of dropouts and burnouts. It's kind of an escape to choose the night then."