Long Work Hours Remain Persistent Problem One Year into Lockdown

For the past year, companies have attempted to help employees navigate the challenges of working from home—with varying degrees of success. Now, an extensive report from Project Include, a nonprofit dedicated to diversity and inclusion in tech, suggests many of those corporate efforts simply aren’t working: two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents to the organization’s survey said that their work hours had increased during the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

In an even darker twist, some 23 percent of respondents said that “their workplaces do not support them emotionally to take time off, to have space, and to respond to hardships,” in the words of the report. The data is based on 2,928 survey responses between September 2020 and January 2021; some 80 percent of respondents worked either in tech or an “adjacent industry” such as bio/healthcare.

If you’re a manager or team leader, there’s a lot in the report worth your attention, particularly this visualization about increasing work pressure; apparently, significant percentages of technologists feel squeezed by everything from the need to be constantly online to working longer hours:

The total reliance on video conferencing and other tools has only exacerbated the issues, particularly regarding management. “Work and tool overload sometimes comes from managers using meetings to substitute for effective communications,” the report added. “Especially since moving remote, managers are having unnecessary meetings, including too many check-ins that add to the workday.” 

In the summer of 2020, a Microsoft study found that its workers were working longer hours and sometimes having more meetings. Over surveys (including Dice’s Sentiment Survey) have also revealed tensions in work-life balance for remote workers. The Project Include report just emphasizes how, despite all the work that’s been done over the past year to make things easier for technologists trying to do their jobs from their bedrooms, there’s still much to be done to achieve optimal work-life balance.