Survey: Working From Home, Vacations Add to Workplace Stress

Survey: Working From Home, Vacations Add to Workplace Stress

Workers fear falling behind, not getting colleagues to cover for them if they take off
Working from home and vacations add to workplace stress

A job that lets you take more time off and work from home may sound like a dream gig, but a new survey suggests that such an opportunity might in fact add more stress to your life.

Wellness technology company Neuvana, whose app and other products are based on neuroscience, surveyed 1,076 working professionals about their stress levels and how working remotely and taking vacations can affect them. While both of those actions can help achieve a more equitable work-life balance, some respondents say they can also have the opposite effect.

While more than half of respondents — 58% — said they work remotely at least once per month, many of them have found that working from home comes with its own set of challenges. Of this group, 51% said working remotely adds to their feelings of stress, while 43% said working remotely is more stressful than clocking in at the office.

Taking some time off — or even a mental health day — may sound like a good way to cut down on some of that stress. However, in reality, many respondents don’t find that to be the case. For some, the idea of disconnecting from work is a myth, as 23% said it’s impossible to disengage from work while on vacation.

In fact, nearly half of respondents — 48% — said taking time off to go on a vacation causes more work-related stress than it’s worth. When asked what types of challenges workers experience when taking time off:

  • 23% said they fall behind at work
  • 21% said they have too much work to get done before leaving
  • 19% said it’s challenging to get colleagues to cover for them at work

Long hours, constant communication par for the course

Another contributing factor to employees’ stress levels is the fact that many are working long hours, the study found. Most respondents — 75% — said they are expected to work between 40 and 50 hours per week. Yet 31% said they always work more than the hours expected of them, while another 49% said they occasionally work more hours than what is expected of them. When asked why they work longer hours than expected:

  • 26% said because of stress associated with meeting deadlines
  • 26% said because they are trying to get a promotion or otherwise get ahead
  • 23% said they want to show that they have a strong work ethic
  • 21% said because they are afraid they will fall behind at work

The study also showed that workers are always connected to the workplace, with 61% reporting feeling pressured to answer work-related communications after normal work hours. An overwhelming 82% said they’ve been contacted by a colleague through a personal communications channel such as via text. More than half — 64% — said work-related alerts from different communications platforms stresses them out more.

Finding the right job is a subjective process; what works for you might not work for someone else. However, it’s critical to have as much information as possible about the benefits and drawbacks of different types of work situations. For example, one study found that remote workers experience more career success than those who work in the office. Yet on the flip side, another survey found that remote workers have less work-life balance than their office-bound counterparts. When weighing the right job offer, not only should you consider financial factors but also the amount of stress a job can add to your life.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.