New research finds remote workers are spending more time than before the pandemic
Many employees yearn to work from home, seeking to escape the commute and have more time in the day, but new research from the US, Canada, UK and Austria has shown that workers are spending more time than ever to work.
According to this new research conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees working remotely spend approximately 2.5 hours more per average workday. This increase in working hours was most dramatic in the UK and the Netherlands, where employees regularly worked until 8 p.m. In contrast, workers in Spain, Denmark and Belgium saw a sudden increase in hours spent working, but this fell back to pandemic levels.
Researchers found that when analyzing data collected from a corporate VPN provider, NordVN, employee VPN data usage did not decrease significantly during lunchtime, indicating that most workers probably do not take regular lunch breaks. Additionally, researchers found that VPN server traffic on Thanksgiving was 41% higher than on a typical weekend, which also indicates that employees are working with family.
Although an analysis of corporate server traffic cannot definitively prove that employees are not using servers for personal purposes, the study concluded that this seems less likely than the alternative. According to a spokesperson for the VPN provider, most employees use the work servers appropriately, especially since there are VPNs readily available for personal use.
This trend towards excessive working hours has become worrisome during the pandemic and the corresponding movement towards working from home. For example, a remote team building experience provider, In time, an independent study found that more than half of UK employees said they had been asked to work outside their normal working hours while working remotely. Similarly, nearly three-quarters of employees working from home said they had experienced stress, fatigue or burnout during the pandemic.
Researchers spoke to employees at over 100 companies in the UK, and almost half reported an increase in workload since starting to work from home; 31% said working from home during the pandemic had affected their mental health, such as depression, anxiety or burnout.
As countless employers have been forced to move their workforce to remote operations, this research shows that HR will need to work to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. While labor shortages plague many employers, workloads have often increased and many employees feel the need to work despite illness. This situation is now aggravated by the absence of a clear distinction between professional and personal life. In response, HR will need to help employees find that balance.
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