New research suggests that workloads in offices around the UK have gone up markedly over the last year, resulting in increased stress levels as employees work longer hours and have less time for their families and holidays.
These are the key findings of an independent survey commissioned by collaboration and work management platform Wrike about digital working culture and its impact on the lives of office workers in the UK, France and Germany.
The results show:
- Workloads have gone up over the last year for 58% of UK respondents, 72% in Germany and 77% in France.
- Working hours have gone up for 47% over the last year, compared to 56% in France and 61% in Germany.
- 62% of UK respondents with changed workloads stated that they were feeling more stressed compared to a year ago. Those with the highest perceived increases in workload were also the most stressed (83%). The most stressed country in the survey was Germany (66%), with the UK ranking second (62%) and France third (60%).
- In the UK, close to a third (31%) now spend less time with their family than a year ago, 28% have less time available to take for holidays and a quarter (25%) now work more at weekends than they used to, due to their changed workload. By contrast, 51% of respondents in Germany and 41% in France stated that their family time had decreased.
- UK employees believe that their line manager expects them to work longer hours (34%) and to take fewer breaks (27%) to get the job done.
- Those perceptions appear to be on the mark, with 40% of managers saying they now expect their employees to work longer hours and 33% saying they need to take fewer breaks to meet that increase in demand.
Part-time working is a pipe dream
Taken together, only a fifth of UK workers think their working hours are fine, and three in five (59%) would work fewer hours – either if they could afford it financially or their workloads could be adjusted accordingly.
Technology as a saviour?
Technology is perceived by the majority as being key to helping workers stay abreast of their expanding task list, making it easier to work remotely, share information, and increase productivity. In fact, in spite of rising workloads, more than a quarter of workers felt they and their teams had become more productive over the last year.
Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike commented: “Much has been made of the blurring of lines between work and private life. Our study shows that it’s not so much a blurring of those worlds but a progressive decline of personal time in favour of work time.
“The problem is that workloads are growing exponentially, but the systems and processes we have are not keeping up – and that is taking a toll on workers. They need better ways of managing the sheer volume of work requests and demands. At the same time, business leaders need a clear view of workloads – and realistic expectations as to the amount of work staff can handle at once, without burning out.
“You wouldn’t overload a piece of machinery and expect it to last long without failure. The same principles apply to humans, especially if you expect them to produce high-quality work on a consistent basis.”