Research shows workdays getting longer due to remote working

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Atlassian’s analysis of user-interface time shows a marked increase in hours worked during the pandemic.

The move toward working from home has had the predictable effect of upending the balance of work and life. Now a data science team from Atlassian has quantified just how much that balance may be shifting.

Arik Friedman, Principal Data Scientist for Atlassian, teamed up with some colleagues to examine the amount of time that their users were spending on interaction with their applications’ user interfaces.

Atlassian is a leading producer to collaboration platforms. For this report, they looked at analytics events from Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket. Although plenty of work takes place outside these tools, Friedman asserts that the aggregated data is sufficient to identify patterns.

As the pandemic has lengthened, so has our workday

Friedman reports: “The impact of lockdowns on our customers was consistent with the patterns we observed amongst our own staff: a striking change took place in March, with workdays becoming significantly longer by April.”

First, the team aggregated data from January 2020 – February 2020, when employees were generally working from corporate offices. They then compared that to data from April 2020 – May 2020. They determined that this was the point at which most knowledge workers worldwide were working from home.

The data showed that in some countries, like Israel and India, the differences were more pronounced. In others, such as Korea, the impact was minimal. In all cases, however, they did spot a difference.

The team’s findings were confirmed by a study commissioned by Atlassian and conducted by research firm Paper Giant this past summer. It found that over half of respondents said it’s harder now to maintain work-life boundaries than before the pandemic.

What to do?

Because team leads and executives set the tone for their organizations, they have a special role to play, says Friedman. They should encourage team members to set reminders on their calendars for when it’s time to take a break or stop work for the day, he added.

And most importantly, they can set an example by muting notifications on their phones after hours and taking time off to recharge.

“Remote work will be part of our lives to some extent for a long time,” Friedman concludes. “The question now is whether we can find a way to make remote work work – for everyone.”