Over the past months, the worldwide workforce has grappled with working from home, to varying degrees of success. Whilst some sectors are clearly unaffected by this change, others have been immensely impacted. With so many different case studies, it is worth exploring whether this has boosted productivity or left us with a less efficient workforce.
Exhaustion whilst working from home has been well documented. At the start of the lockdown, “zoom fatigue” became a trending topic. Not just the exhaustion of the frequency and duration, but the subtle nuances required to communicate and perceive over video call. Many workers reported poor sleep quality, increased stress and constant feelings of lethargy. Video calls lead to increased anxiety and feelings of being observed. Additionally, many have felt the blurred lines of “work” and “home” as their spaces have merged together.
Bloomberg recently published a neurological theory known as “Load Theory” suggesting the overstimulation of our brains at the moment. The theory suggests that workers are more easily distracted than normal. This goes beyond the obvious (multiple people working from home in the same house, children, pets). It suggests that our brains are currently overwhelmed and struggling to focus on one thing. COVID and its accompanying threats occupy our short-term memory, leaving less room to focus on tasks.
A recent global study of 1,125 workers conducted by Webexpenses found that six in ten workers have experienced tech-related challenges during lockdown. The top issues found were access issues (62%), supporting colleagues to use technology (19%) and inadequate equipment and hardware (18%). These technological issues negatively impacted workplace productivity causing delays.
Are People Working More Hours?
With all of these issues of productivity, workers in many sectors are working more hours than ever before. In the same Webexpenses study, 42% of those who formerly worked outside of the home, reported working extra hours each week now that they were working from home. Of those, 22% are working an additional 10 hours or more weekly. Nearly 25% reported their work taking longer and 25% claimed they struggled to do their job effectively.
The sudden nature of Coronavirus pandemic left the workforce ill-equipped to work from home. Subsequently, this has led to increased inefficiency and decreased productivity. It is a call to action for many companies to reassess their internal processes and technological tools.