Employees work an extra 26 hours a month when remote

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Only months ago, a growing number of businesses were experimenting with or adopting a four-day workweek, but remote work policies imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have pivoted this trend in the opposite direction.

Full-time employees are working an extra 26 hours a month when remote, adding nearly an extra day of work to the week, according to a new report from Owl Labs, a video conferencing technology company.

The increase in work hours may be due to employees needing more time to adapt to new changes businesses have made in response to the pandemic, says Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs. Having the workplace always available — as employees work right in their house — is also blurring the lines between work and home, possibly adding to their hours worked.

“Some of the biggest difficulties employees had were having children at home, more meetings than usual and not having worked remotely or from home before,” he says. “It probably took employees more hours to get to some level of comfortability.”

See also: Many employees are tired of working from home. Here’s what to do about it.

Employees may also be filling in the time they spent commuting with more time at work. The report found employees were spending an average of 40 minutes daily on their commute.

“Everybody's situation is different, but I was commuting roughly two to three hours per day, which is 10-15 extra hours per week,” Weishaupt says. “Now I have a lot more flexibility in terms of when my workday starts and ends, and I don't have to give that time to the commute — but can actually give it to work.”

But along with increased work hours are increased levels of stress. Almost 1 in 2 employees are worried that staying remote could negatively affect their career, according to the findings. During the coronavirus pandemic, 91% percent of employees say they’ve experienced moderate to extreme stress while working from home, according to a survey by Ginger, a mental health benefits platform.

See also: Why returning to ‘business as usual’ during COVID-19 jeopardizes employee productivity and mental health

Despite these challenges, the flexibility of working remotely has helped many employees achieve better work-life balance. Overall, the report found that workers were benefiting from the perks of remote work, and named avoiding their commutes and having more time with their families as top reasons to continue working remotely.

“When you look at the overwhelming data, it shows that employees are much happier, which is a bigger indication of what this change has meant for people,” Weishaupt says. “Yes, people are working significantly more, but they're not having to sacrifice their personal lives to work. People are happier and feel just as productive, if not more [when working remotely].”

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