Are Hybrid Workers at a Higher Risk of Overwork?

Recent research from Mental Health UK found that out of 2,060 working adults, 49% said their employers lack a plan to identify and prevent burnout. Only 29% of respondents were aware of any existing strategies their employers might have in place.

The research highlights significant gaps in how employers are addressing burnout and chronic stress, particularly among hybrid workers. It was found that 24% of workers feel unable to manage stress and pressure in the workplace, and 20% have needed to take time off in the past year due to mental health issues caused by work-related stress.

These findings highlight the need for employers to develop and communicate clear strategies for managing employee stress and preventing burnout. 

The Consequence of Overwork

Overwork can lead to burnout. Burnout is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon” and is classified as a syndrome involving a collection of symptoms linked to prolonged stress, such as that experienced in demanding jobs. 

It manifests as physical and emotional exhaustion and can lead to feelings of being constantly tired, helpless, trapped, and detached from others. Other common signs include developing a cynical outlook, experiencing self-doubt, procrastinating, and feeling overwhelmed by daily responsibilities.

While 93% of UK adults can identify some symptoms of burnout, 68% confuse them with symptoms of anxiety. Understanding these signs helps differentiate burnout from other conditions, ensuring appropriate responses.

5 Reasons Hybrid Workers May Experience Overwork

Proactive measures can significantly enhance employee well-being, productivity, and retention, especially in hybrid work settings where the boundaries between work and personal life can blur. Here are some reasons hybrid workers may experience overwork.

1. Working Unpaid Overtime

Hybrid workers often find themselves more prone to working additional unpaid hours compared to their office-bound counterparts. The flexibility of working from home can blur the lines between personal and professional time, making it easier for work to extend into what should be personal time. Without the clear separation that a physical office provides, hybrid workers may struggle to set boundaries, leading to longer working hours and increased risk of overwork.

2. Increased Workloads

A common issue for UK workers, particularly those in hybrid roles, is the assignment of workloads that are unmanageable within standard working hours. Hybrid workers might face expectations to be more productive since they save commuting time. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into more time or capacity for additional tasks, often resulting in the need to work extra hours to meet unrealistic demands.

3. Lack of Managerial Support

Managers play a crucial role in preventing overwork, but many are falling short in ensuring workloads are evenly distributed. Hybrid workers may feel isolated and less visible to their managers, leading to uneven workloads and unrealistic expectations. Effective communication and regular check-ins are essential, but these are often lacking, leaving hybrid workers to deal with heavy amounts of work without adequate support.

4. Negative Impact on Business Performance and Engagement

Overwork can severely damage both business performance and employee engagement. When hybrid workers are consistently overworked, their productivity can decrease, and the quality of their work may suffer. Furthermore, the strain of overwork can lead to deteriorating relationships with managers and a demotivated workforce. This not only affects individual performance but can also have broader implications for team dynamics and overall business outcomes.

5. Detriment to Employee Wellbeing

The well-being of employees is heavily compromised by overwork, with hybrid workers being particularly susceptible. Many employees experience burnout and may forgo taking holidays to keep up with their workload. This cycle of overwork and inadequate rest can have serious long-term effects on both mental and physical health, highlighting the urgent need for better work-life balance strategies.

Taking Action

Employers should prioritise creating a supportive work environment by implementing comprehensive plans to identify signs of chronic stress, offering resources for stress management, and encouraging open communication about mental health. By doing so, they can help mitigate the risk of burnout and support their employees’ overall health and productivity.

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