Teleworking improving, but employees feel more isolated and burnt out than a year ago

A study by Eada concludes that 60% of professionals do between one and two hours overtime when working from home

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Teleworking can only be voluntary and requires the existence of an agreement between the employee and the company.

Barcelona"Most people have a very good experience, but the main difficulties are stress and isolation". The doctor in business psychology and professor at the Eada business school Aline Masuda summarises the first year of formalised teleworking in Catalonia. A year ago, Eada led a study which sought to find out how working from home was being implemented; now, it aimed to study how the practice has evolved in the past year. And there have been changes: whereas then the main lesson was that working from home lengthened the working day, now the main problem has shifted to feelings of isolation from colleagues and a significant incidence of stress symptoms.

On the positive side of the scale is that only 2% of employees surveyed rate their teleworking experience as very bad. This view fits with the fact that in general the barriers are perceived as much less problematic than they were a year ago, although it should be noted that the original responses were collected during the first lockdown. Thus, in May 2020, family disruptions, inadequate physical space and connectivity issues were at an all-time high, and this year, by contrast, they have subsided.

According to Eada alumnus and researcher Luciano Strucchi, the percentage of people who say they work more than eight hours a day has also decreased (although they are still 40% of the sample) and the proportion of workers who work a conventional working day is growing (33%). Along the same lines, the number of employees who say they work more than four hours overtime fell significantly, from 14% to 2% of the total. However, the majority (60%) admit to working between one and two hours outside working hours.

"There is a lot of literature and research that shows that you telework for one or two hours more than a person who works in person, and this is usually not paid," says Masuda.

In fact, one of the problems she points out is that the successful implementation of teleworking depends on the worker reaching a deal with the company, which would have to provide him or her with equipment and ensure that he or she has an adequate workspace. "Many companies are taking the right measures, but there is a lack of communication," says Masuda, "and the law is so diffuse that you have to end up seeking a deal". In this sense, 62% of the workers surveyed say the company has not given them information regarding the law on teleworking.

Feeling of loneliness

The big problem, however, is that the vast majority (68%) admit that they often feel they lack company. More than half say their relationship with co-workers has seriously weakened (last year only 16% responded in this sense), and 49% say they feel isolated from colleagues.

Masuda relates this precisely to the fact that managers have not known how to manage relationships within teams or that teleworking has not been implemented correctly. "At the beginning, teleworking perhaps did not affect us so much, but after a year without seeing people face to face, this has started to have repercussions", Strucchi adds. In this sense, more than half of the employees say they feel burnt out or have burnout symptoms: 34% moderate and 18% severe. The key, then, for these experts, is the hybrid format: that is, teleworking between two and three days a week.