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Feel Like You're Working Longer Hours in WFH? Harvard Business Study Finds You are Right

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

On average, they found that, employees sent 5.2 percent more emails a day, and emails had 2.9 percent more recipients. About 8.3 percent more emails were sent after business hours.

Six months into the "new normal" and whatever semblance of work-life balance you had before the pandemic is now gone.

Your hours are longer, your meetings always occur at lunch time and you definitely never 'log out' at the time you used to leave your office building.

But it's not just in your head, or you alone. A Harvard Business Study confirms what many work-from-home employees already know: We're swamped.

The study, which was conducted on over 3 million people in 16 global cities found that the average workday increased by 8.2 percent—or 48.5 minutes—during the pandemic’s early weeks. Employees also participated in more meetings, though for less time than they did before COVID-19 sent many workers home.

“There is a general sense that we never stop being in front of Zoom or interacting,” said Raffaella Sadun, professor of business administration in the HBS Strategy Unit in a release. “It’s very taxing, to be honest.”

Shifting to work from home at the start of the pandemic stripped away whatever was left of the elusive 9-to-5 business day and replaced it with videoconferencing and “asynchronous work.”

The study compared the frequency and timing of emails sent within and outside organizations eight weeks before the start of pandemic-related lockdowns, and eight weeks after.

On average, they found that, employees sent 5.2 percent more emails a day, and emails had 2.9 percent more recipients. About 8.3 percent more emails were sent after business hours.

While working from home, people attended 13 percent more meetings. Each meeting was 12 minutes—or 20 percent—shorter, reducing the number of meeting hours by 12 percent, or 19 minutes. The number of people invited to each meeting rose by two, or 14 percent.

The most striking point was the average workday becoming longer: The average workday lasted 8.2 percent longer, an extra 48.5 minutes. While it’s unlikely that employees worked continuously during that period, the researchers feel that employees adopted more fluid schedules to accommodate interruptions while at home.

So the next time you get up from work and look at the clock and think, 'Wow that much time has passed?' Remember, it's not you alone. Your work hours seem longer because they are infact longer.