While the coronavirus pandemic is increasing employee burnout globally, the impact differs across countries, according to a new work trends index by Microsoft Corp.
The survey, which polled more than 6,000 information and frontline workers in eight countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, India, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S., found more than 30 per cent of respondents said the pandemic has increased their feelings of burnout at work. That figure rises to 44 per cent in Brazil and drops to 10 per cent in Germany.
The causes of workplace stress also differed, with survey respondents asked to rank their top contributors from a list of 12 options. Globally, the top stressor was worry about getting the virus, followed by lack of separation between work and life, feeling disconnected from co-workers and unmanageable workloads or hours.
Digging deeper into into the lack of separation between work and life, the survey found people are in significantly more meetings, taking more ad-hoc calls and managing more incoming chats than they did before the pandemic. Unfortunately, after-hours chats, between 5 p.m. and midnight, have also increased.
In addition, it found the lack of a commute may be hurting, rather than helping, remote worker productivity. “Commutes provide blocks of uninterrupted time for mentally transitioning to and from work, an important aspect of well-being and productivity,” said Shamsi Iqbal, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, in a blog post. “People will say, ‘I’m happy I don’t have to commute anymore. I’m saving time.’ But without a routine for ramping up for work and then winding down, we’re emotionally exhausted at the end of the day.”
On the other hand, another survey found more than 50 per cent of remote workers agreed their physical and mental wellness has improved while working from home, citing more quality time with family (75 per cent) and more time for tasks around the house (79 per cent) among other answers.
The survey, by cloud-based accounting software company Xero, found half (49 per cent) of Canadian employees working from home reported no change in the quality of their work-life balance. However, women were more likely to say the quality of their work-life balance has improved and those between the ages of 18 and 34 reported the greatest improvement to the quality of their work-life balance.