ResearchThinkingPedalling furiously: Workers report a ‘cycle of fatigue’ when working from home

Working from home is exacerbating an 'always on' culture - where 74% of UK employees having suffered negative effects of fatigue, stress, or burnout since home working began.
Content Team3 years ago7 min

Data from a study of UK employees finds that over half of respondents are struggling to keep their workloads within working hours.

These increasingly blurred lines between work and home are creating a ‘cycle of fatigue’ for UK employees, and the effects are being felt from intern level to the boardroom. Decision makers are being encouraged to break the cycle by adapting their HR and employee wellbeing programmes to address the situation.

The ‘2021 Working from Home Study’, conducted by virtual team building company Wildgoose, asked employees from 133 companies throughout the UK how working from home has impacted them, whether they have been able to keep a good work/life balance, and how companies could improve home working practices.

44% of employees find that they have a heavier workload since working from home and have asked that it is reduced. Following on from this, almost a third (31%) have seen a direct impact on their mental health, stating that they have felt depressed, anxious, or suffered from exhaustion.

Working through illness

Following revelations around changes to working hours when remote working and the impact of these, the study also raised concerns about whether employees were taking sick leave to tackle physical or mental illness – 29% of employees stated that they had worked through illness. HR teams need to make sure that employees are encouraged to take sick leave when needed and effectively communicate to company’s position on sick leave when working from home.

Medium-sized companies have the highest rate of employees who have worked through illness while working from home, with 42%. Unsurprisingly, employees from these companies also reported having the greatest workload – 58% stated that they have had an increased workload over the last year working from home.

Parental burnout

Parents were found to be particularly susceptible to fatigue. Over 4 in 5 (81.25%) of parents stated that they had suffered when working from home. With the current lockdown closing schools, parents are relied upon to provide educational support for their children. 42% of UK parents want their company to step in to provide childcare support through flexible working hours, online learning support, or other initiatives.

Parents - 'I have suffered from fatigue; stress; or burnout when working from home (2)

When asked about the negative effects they felt when working from home, 25% of parents reported that their quality of sleep had worsened and 28% went as far as to say that they had felt depressed, anxious or exhausted. In fact, less than one fifth of parents (19%) had suffered none of these consequences of working from home.

What do employees want from their companies?

Communication between colleagues was found to be a key measure to better address issues of burnout, increased stress and fatigue when working from home. 49% of UK employees stated that everyday casual conversation between employees was needed, while 44% wanted regular virtual activities and fun ‘breakouts’ with colleagues.

What do employees want from their companies?

Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser states:

“The lack of casual communication with colleagues during the working day is making employees feel more isolated and less motivated without the natural ‘breaks’ away from work. It’s crucial not to underestimate the difference that investing in meaningful interaction can make, and as a company we are continuing to innovate by offering remote workforces unique team building activities that reinforce bonds. They’ve seen a fantastic response, and we expect this trend to continue growing.”

To find out more about the survey, click here.

To find out more about fatigue when working from home and the ‘always on’ culture, click here.

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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