Employees who work from home are spending longer at their desks and facing a bigger workload than before the Covid pandemic hit, two sets of research have suggested.
The average length of time an employee working from home in the UK, Austria, Canada and the US is logged on at their computer has increased by more than two hours a day since the coronavirus crisis. UK workers have increased their working week by almost 25% and, along with employees in the Netherlands, are logging off at 8pm, it said. Workers in Canada also increased the number of hours they were online from nine to 11 a day. The number of hours worked by people in Denmark, Belgium and Spain have fallen back to pre-pandemic levels.
In January workers in the UK and US were typically logged on for 11 hours a day – up from nine hours in the UK and eight in the US before lockdowns began in March 2020.
Employees in the UK and the Netherlands are working until 8pm, regularly logging off later than usual to wrap up an extended working day.”
A third survey, this time of freelancers, by a recruitment website found employees were also reporting doing longer working days since the Covid crisis.
People were also taking shorter lunch breaks while working remotely.
Separate research found 44% of UK employees reported being expected to do more work over the last year, with those at mid-sized firms most likely to report an increased workload.
The surveys also showed home workers taking shorter lunch breaks, working through sickness, and more workers being “always on” as the split between working and leisure time is blurred.
Wildgoose’s managing director, Jonny Edser, said, “With increased workloads and a worrying trend of working through sickness, people’s jobs are becoming ever more blurred with their home lives at a time when it’s crucial the two can remain distinct from each other.”
Emma Stewart, a co-founder of flexible working consultancy, said during lockdown forms of flexible working, in particular part-time work, were being forgotten.
“The working day is at risk of losing its barriers and there will be real impact on mental health and wellbeing,” she said.
Morten Petersen, said for many people “switching off of our ‘work mode’ when we work and live in the same house, flat, or even room, has become extremely difficult.
“The temptation to answer emails late into the night has become even greater.”