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Perks of Telework: Pandemic Burnout Worries Heat Up

Aug. 21, 2020, 10:30 AM

Time for Perks of Telework, our revamped recap of intriguing data, surveys, and trends about how the 21st century workplace is weathering the new coronavirus. Check this space every other Friday to keep up with the latest coping with Covid-19 chatter.

Different Worlds

This virus-stung summer has taken a toll on everyone. Essential workers are feeling it especially hard.

Consulting firm KPMG LLP polled a mix of 1,400 full- and part-time staff at large companies about how the pandemic has affected their livelihood.

Respondents shared a tale of two work forces—those who’ve spent several months working from home and essential personnel obligated to keep the office running no matter what.

Remote workers were more upbeat across the board about the way things are going than their commuting counterparts.

Nine out of 10 remote workers (91%) said they were satisfied with management’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, compared with the 72% of essential staff who gave management a thumbs-up.

Eighty-nine percent of remote workers said management “acted quickly to create a safe working environment” once the virus hit. Seven out of 10 essential staff (73%) reported feeling good about workplace safety.

Questioning their commitment to sticking with the company exposed the second largest split between the two camps: 78% of remote workers said staying put suited them, compared with the 60% of essential staff okay with continuing in their current roles.

Whether hammering out projects around kitchen tables or at desolate office parks, KPMG urged managers against taking for granted all the extra effort employees are putting in during the pandemic.

“Employers may need to reassess the demands placed on employees shouldering work once performed by colleagues who have been let go or furloughed,” KPMG analysts said. “Extra work originally envisioned as temporary, but that is starting to look permanent, could lead to burnout.”

Take Some Time

KPMG isn’t the only one raising alarms about potential burnout.

Workforce management firm Kronos polled over 1,200 employees about unused vacation time.

Nearly six in 10 (58%) working parents with kids living at home said they’d taken time off since the pandemic struck.

Lifelong teleworkers came in a close second, with 55% reporting that they’d unplugged for a bit during quarantine.

The rest and relaxation numbers trickle down from there.

Four in 10 (39%) essential workers said they haven’t taken any time to “rest and recharge” over the past five months.

Around a third of childless workers (37%) reported taking some time off—“a reminder for organizations to encourage all employees to exercise more self-care,” Kronos analysts wrote.

The Race Is On

Who’ll be the last teleworker summoned back to headquarters?

The smart money’s on HR staff, according to answering service Moneypenny’s latest survey.

The Moneypenny poll found that two-thirds (67%) of human resources personnel are currently working from home.

HR holds an 11-point lead on the next largest remote working population, finance types (56%).

More than half (52%) of information technology staff continue doing their thing from home, followed by telework-enabled architects/engineers (43%), sales/media/marketing professionals (27%), and travel/transportation folks (21%).

Those least likely to still be drawing a paycheck from the comfort of their living room: retail workers and catering staff (10%).

Hungry for more? Send any tips, polls, or story pitches to wrojas@bloombergindustry.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Warren Rojas in Washington at wrojas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com