Technologists’ Working Hours Keep Increasing During Work From Home

Work-life balance was a critical issue for technologists even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Over the past year, concerns over burnout and working hours only increased as technologists tried to juggle family and work. 

As a new survey from Blind (which anonymously queries technologists on a range of issues) makes clear, many technologists at some of the nation’s largest tech companies saw their working hours either slightly or significantly increase over the past year. With some notable exceptions (such as at Bloomberg), very few saw their work hours decrease substantially. Take a look at the chart:

Overall, some 49 percent of surveyed technologists said their work hours had significantly increased during the pandemic, and 19 percent said the increase was only a slight one; meanwhile, 12 percent said their hours had stayed the same, 10 percent said they’d enjoyed a drastic reduction in hours, and 9 percent saw a slight decrease. That’s a big red flag for technologists and managers to evaluate whether they’re working too much; if so, it might be time to evaluate workloads.

When it comes to maintaining a great work-life balance while working remotely, it’s not just about working hours; technologists (and other workers) have all sorts of needs, including more flexible workloads and mental health support. In October 2020, for instance, SlashData’s update to its State of the Developer Nation revealed the extent of those needs:

Indeed, in summer 2020, Dice’s Sentiment Survey revealed that, for a significant percentage of technologists, workloads increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That July, some 73 percent of technologists told Blind that they were feeling burnt-out. That’s all in addition to a study from Microsoft that found the company’s employees were working an additional four hours per week, on average, and “signing into work earlier and signing off later”—a situation no doubt experienced at other companies, as well.

If you’re experiencing an overwhelming workload, and/or you’ve noticed your working hours steadily creeping up while working remotely, it’s imperative to talk with your manager or team leader as soon as possible. They might not be aware of the issue until you bring it to their attention. Come to the discussion with a plan for adjusting your workload and hours to a reasonable level. After the ups and downs of the past year, your manager is no doubt too aware of what burnout can cost a team.