BUSINESS
11/28/2020 10:32 EST

Working From Home Amid COVID-19: Longer Hours, Sore Backs And ‘Zoom Call Fatigue’

Cutting back on Zoom calls and encouraging workers to take breaks could help in these stressful times.

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Whether they like working from home or not, Canada’s new army of remote workers need new tools to grapple with new workplace issues ― heavier workloads, longer hours, physical strain and “video call fatigue.”

In a new study of Canadian remote workers from global staffing firm Robert Half, 54 per cent of respondents said they work on weekends, and more than a third reported putting in more than eight hours a day. 

And nearly half of respondents in an earlier survey ― 44 per cent ― said they are suffering from “video call fatigue,” with 15 per cent saying they found video calls “inefficient and exhausting.”

Watch: Those working from home less likely to call in sick. Story continues below.

 

“Video calls often require more energy than other communication means such as phone calls or email,” said David King, Canadian senior district president at Robert Half, in a statement.

“With many employees already managing heavy workloads, limiting them to those that are necessary can help reduce meeting fatigue and increase focus time for employees.”

But “video call fatigue” doesn’t mean workers are enjoying being disconnected from their colleagues.

In an informal survey of its networks across 27 countries, including Canada, remote work software company Working Den found 32 per cent of workers said a lack of interaction and sociability was their main issue with working from home.

Physical and emotional problems are mounting. Workers often don’t have a proper work setup, at times working from the couch or even bed. Fifty-four per cent of respondents said they suffer from back pain, while fifty-two per cent said they are struggling with anxiety.

“It is critical that employers encourage their teams to take regular breaks and prioritize themselves and their wellbeing,” King said. 

These issues appear even more critical in light of the fact many businesses intend to make working from home permanent, to some extent, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than half of human resources managers told Robert Half in a recent poll that their company will be offering flextime work options to employees, while 45 per cent said they would be offering compressed work weeks, and around  job sharing and permanent part-time arrangements.

“The recent pivot to new working models has made managers more aware of the importance of work-life balance,” King said. “As a result, many companies will continue to offer programs and perks put in place during COVID-19, such as flexible hours and more autonomy, well into the future.”