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Survey of 10K workers finds rampant complaints of burnout, busy work

Posted by Neha De

April 25, 2022    |     3-minute read (515 words)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people work forever. The lines between personal and professional lives are blurrier than ever. Some workers have permanently adapted to working from home. At the same time, others are making arrangements for hybrid work setups with periodic commutes to the office for in-person meetings or even a five-day office workweek. 

While things seem to be falling back in place, businesses across the world are still facing uncertainty over their working arrangements in the future — most are not sure where their staff members will be working six months from now. 

To understand what’s working — and what’s not — for the workers in their organizations, work management platform Asana conducted a survey of 10,624 global knowledge workers. 

They found that workers spent 58% of their day doing “work about work.” This includes communicating about work, switching between apps, searching for information, chasing status updates and managing shifting priorities. The survey respondents said they waste more than five hours a week, or about six working weeks per year, because of these tasks, including some duplicate ones and pointless meetings.

On the other hand, 33% of employees spent their days doing skilled work that they were hired to do, and only 9% spent time on strategic work. 

The survey found that all of this was causing a lack of clarity, which has resulted in increased burnout and driving work stress. 

Processes at larger corporations are often more complex than those at smaller companies, with well-established workflows that require several different stakeholders and steps. And when different teams have their own tools and ways of working, cross-team collaboration creates friction — instead of clarity.

40% of employees believe burnout is intrinsic to success

The survey revealed that “workers believe the cost of success is regular burnout. Almost one-quarter experienced burnout four or more times in the last year. 40% of all workers think it’s an inevitable part of success.”

However, they want their organizations to set clearer and more realistic goals, and to provide better mental health resources in order to help them manage burnout. They also want more clarity around their schedules — 37% of overall respondents and 53% of Gen Zers said they have no fixed times for when their workday begins and ends. 

Where do the employees want to work? 

“Employees prefer doing skilled work and attending large meetings from home. For everything else, they prefer the office,” the survey found. Employees do their best skilled work at home, where they can concentrate better. However, they prefer the office for the majority of their interpersonal work, as 49% of them view the office as more of a social space than they used to, especially when it comes to collaborative tasks like strategy and planning, onboarding, one-on-one meetings, and training and development.

The home and the office both have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and need to be addressed accordingly. According to the survey, “The most progressive and, ultimately, successful companies will be those that structure their hybrid approach for which environment best suits the activities and goals at hand.”

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