Remote work, due to the pandemic, has brought many benefits for workers across the world. But it is not a silver bullet, and two years into the pandemic, that is becoming increasingly obvious.
Research by the Conference Board found that 58% of US remote workers found their work-life integration had grown, 47% were struggling with blurring boundaries between their work and personal lives and 34% were concerned about having to be always on.
Interestingly, the situation was similar for hybrid workers – 41% had experienced blurred boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
For both the remote and hybrid workers they feel their relationships with colleagues have declined with working from home – 39% for hybrid, and 51% for fully remote.
In addition, 41% of all 1,300 workers saw their mental health deteriorate – another 41% saw a rise in burnout, and 38% experienced a decline in engagement and morale.
This is linked to the fact that they were overworking and taking less leave – 53% worked more hours and 37% took fewer holiday days than before COVID-19.
Will going back to the office help?
In this context of burnout, stress and overworking, could less working from home be a solution?
82% of workers told Conference Board they were comfortable going back to the office, this is up from 71% in January 2022.
The main benefits they saw were an increase in networking opportunities (74%), collaboration between and within teams (72%), and an ability to maintain company culture (70%).
But this doesn’t mean a return to the office will solve all of the problems.
Conference Board executive vice-president of human capital Rebecca Ray commented: “Rather than assuming a return to the office will be the panacea, HR leaders can also be proactive in helping to set and maintain more definitive work boundaries in this new world of work.”
Leaders need to stop expecting employees to reply to emails or phone calls after hours. They need to encourage workers to take a lunch break – and use it to go outside for a walk or to do some exercise.
It is clear that workers are struggling to manage their workloads; so their managers need to step up, check in, and find ways to mitigate any challenges.
It is crucial that organizations act now – burnout is a leading cause of the ongoing war for talent – dubbed the ‘Great Resignation‘.
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