- As a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, employees are spending more time working than before. The average employee is putting in an extra hour of work per week and spending more time in one-on-one meetings or team check-ins, according to a study from Clockwise.
- Compared to the week of February 23rd, which Clockwise calls "the last relatively 'normal'" work week, the fifth week of March saw the average worker spend 24% more time in one-on-one meetings and 29% more time in "team sync" meetings.
- The analysis also found an 11% increase in "fragmented time," which Clockwise defines as "chunks of time to work that are shorter than two hours." Additionally, 23% more workers had fragmented time than before. "More Fragmented Time is a predictable result of the influx of new events appearing on workers’ calendars," Clockwise wrote.
Overwork, engagement and productivity risks in the workplace were rising even before the pandemic. A SimplyHired survey from September 2019 found that younger generations admitted to being unable to stop thinking about work. SimplyHired attributed this to mobile technology and constant emails, now the primary means of communication for co-workers.
Additionally, a poll of corporate professionals by Neuvana in January 2020 found that "work-life balance is nearly non-existent," with 43% saying that working from home is more stressful than working in the office. Fifty-one percent said that working from home elevates their stress levels and a third admitted putting in more work hours at home than in the office.
A Forrester report went as far as to suggest a workers’ Bill of Rights that includes the option to ignore emails and instant messages. "The modern workplace is a waking nightmare for any employee trying to focus on important work and shut out distractions," the report said, a problem only magnified by the pandemic and ensuing widespread shift to remote work.
As a result of the pandemic, employees are reporting increased stress levels, according to a recent Gallup poll. Eighty-one percent of employees in the same poll said that COVID-19 has caused either a "fair amount" or "great deal" of disruption in their lives and a poll published by Axios found that 35% of workers reported worsening mental health.
Offering workers flexible work arrangements is one way to address some of these challenges, including better accommodating working parents, according to a report by the U.K.-based Centre of Economics and Business Research. Now that employees are fully remote, managers should consider the need for scheduling free time and perhaps re-thinking the structure of working hours.
Another way to overcome added stress for workers and trouble disconnecting from work is by boosting online education offerings. Cornerstone Learning and Udemy have seen large spikes in usage, specifically for courses around focus, work-life balance, time management and resilience.