The Pandemic Has More Workers Burning The Midnight Oil, New Study Finds

An exhausted workforce is burning the midnight oil while burning themselves out, according to a new study by Skynova. The survey polled over 1,000 remote employees to learn more about how their work schedules have changed and how changes in work hours have impacted their personal and professional lives. After a year into the pandemic, many remote professionals are struggling to disconnect from work, feeling burned out and looking for employment elsewhere—conditions detrimental to their productivity and job satisfaction. Over seven in 10 remote workers said they were unable to disconnect from work at night.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly half of remote employees are working past midnight during the pandemic, among whom, 22% do so four-plus nights per week, while 52% work past 12 a.m. at least once.
  • 49% of respondents have been told by managers to stop working late, yet over seven in 10 remote workers are unable to disconnect from work at night.
  • 60% of remote employees working past midnight are burned out, with one in three saying they’re very/extremely stressed.
  • Professionals who work past midnight are less likely to feel good about their productivity than those who don’t work past 12 am (70% versus 77%) and are two times more likely to be looking for a new job than those who have not been working past midnight (68% versus 32%).

But there’s good news on the horizon, too, with many workers planning to pivot away from bad habits and embrace healthy living this summer. In a new poll of 2,000 Americans, conducted by health and well-being company Juice Plus+, 58% said the lock down inspired a new outlook and different priorities. The 39% of people who admitted they have developed bad habits said they want to leave behind at least one of them, with the worst behaviors being watching a lot more TV (27%), spending unproductive scrolling on devices (28%) and sleeping in too late (27%). Over a third admitted they want to be a better person, embracing the opportunity to live their lives in a healthier and better way than before and, 35% said they will put their mental well-being above all else, 30% will focus on eating a balanced diet and, with a newfound appreciation for what we are putting into our bodies, 32% are keen to continue cooking healthier meals more rather than opting for a takeaway or a dinner out. Another 19% will be opting for outdoor exercise and getting as much fresh air as possible. 

To make this transition as easy as possible, Dr Zelana Montminy, behavioral scientist and bestselling author of 21 Days to Resilience offers five simple tips to ensure that we’re putting self-care at the top of our priority list: 

1) Don’t try to fake positivity—accept all your feelings, negative ones, too. Once we’re able to acknowledge and be honest about what we’re going through, we give those negative emotions less power over us. Then we’re able to re-frame our thoughts into more hopeful ones and take action to move forward.

2) Saying you want to stay active is great, but it requires actually building it into our calendar to carve out time like we do anything else that’s important. Staying active does wonders for our mental health. If you have a hard time staying motivated, partner up with a friend and hold each other accountable. Instead of meeting people for a coffee, meet up for a power walk and catch up while on the move—win win! 

3) Mindfulness isn’t just limited to meditations, and while that can be really powerful, it’s also important to practice throughout the day to be fully present in whatever we’re doing. Research has shown being engaged in the moment increases our productivity and engagement immensely. Instead of bogging yourself down, create a habit and practice looking inward throughout the day, even create a timer on your phone for check-ins. 

4) Edit your social media feeds and contact lists. The pandemic has hopefully helped us wean toxic relationships and figure out who we can really live without. Tune into that and use it as a tool. When it comes to social media, it’s really hard to compare our behind the scenes with everyone’s edited highlight reels. Un-follow people who make you feel like you’re not doing enough, who you’re always comparing yourself to or who make you feel bad about yourself.  

5) Create a different space outside of work and home that is yours only—book club, painting studio, dance class, whatever it is that you enjoy. Make sure it’s a place or activity that you love so much that you forget where you are, so that you’re in the flow of that moment, and that it’s not related to your career or your family. This will nurture the child still in all of us, and develop all aspects of who you are. There’s so much joy when we are fully immersed in something we enjoy just as we once did as kids—and it’s an incredibly effective way to refresh the mind and spirit. 

“What many people don’t realize, is that by taking a simple step like eating and drinking more healthily, we are affecting our own subconscious,” Dr. Zelana said. “In eating well and exercising more, we are telling our brain and body ‘I am worth it’ which goes so far for affecting our moods positively and spurring us all on to keep up as many healthy habits as possible. We’re subconsciously reinforcing the positive feedback loop in our brain that builds self-worth when we’re careful about what we put into our bodies.”


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