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Accidental overtime: You’re working an extra day each week

A woman works on her laptop at night.
Remote working has led to many people working longer hours (Source: Getty)

People around the world are working an extra 9.2 hours of unpaid overtime every week on average, as work from home arrangements make it harder to switch off at the end of the day.

A new study of global workplace habits by ADP Research Institute found that unpaid overtime jumped sharply in the past 12 months since COVID forced the world into lockdown.

Amid growing concerns around job security, nearly half (46 per cent) of global workers have taken on additional responsibilities, the report found.

Respondents said this was to either compensate for colleagues losing their jobs or to cope with extra workloads created by the pandemic for those in “essential work” positions.

“More than half (55 per cent) of essential workers and a third of non-essential workers (34 per cent) have assumed extra duties during the pandemic,” the report said.

Workers in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region and Latin America were almost twice as likely as their counterparts in Europe to have picked up additional duties.

However, despite the extra hours workers also reported feeling a higher sense of empowerment as flexible working was embraced by managers.

The research found 67 per cent of workers feel more confident taking advantage of flexible working arrangements, which is up from just 26 per cent this time last year.

Additionally, 47 per cent of workers said their manager allows them greater flexibility than company policy requires.

But gender is still a defining factor, with the report finding women are feeling the strain of balancing work and home duties.

Two thirds of the global workforce (67 per cent) said they have been forced to make a compromise between their work and personal life due to the pandemic.

“15 per cent of working parents report that they or someone in their household stopped working voluntarily, rising 26 per cent for those with children under one,” the research said.

“Half of respondents (52 per cent) believe employers’ provisions for working parents will cease within a year.”

Women reported that stress management was a major challenge, and were feeling less assured about job prospects in the future.

Women were also less likely than men to receive a pay rise or bonus for taking on additional work or changing roles, the research found.

“The sudden shift to remote working, interrupted childcare, or job losses has led many workers to rethink their living arrangements, which could prompt new career choices,” the report said.

“Employers need to consider anew how best to attract and retain top talent.”

The research found that the challenges presented a year ago that many thought were only going to be short-term are turning into long-term issues.

“Attempting to make some sense of these events and understand the impact on businesses and workers is vital as employers plan a way forward and reaffirm a sense of stability and purpose at a time when the much-talked-of ‘new normal’ is still unclear.”

Optimism about the next five years in the workplace has fallen since a year ago – but despite the pressures of the pandemic the research found, the mood among workers remains broadly positive.

86 per cent of those surveyed said they felt optimistic, down from 92 per cent who said the same pre-COVID.

Feeling confident to ask your boss for a mental health day is one way that can help reduce the burnout and stress that has built up from the pandemic.

A wellness expert also suggested that there are five simple steps that everyone can take to reduce work-related stress.

The ADP Institute surveyed 32,471 workers in 17 countries around the world between 17 November and 11 December 2020, with 7,627 from the APAC region.

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