Remote work never ends!
The evidence for and against this statement demonstrates that whether a remote worker feels as if their work never ends really depends on the person and their work context. Some people may feel like their work never ends because they cannot manage their time, they cannot switch off from work, or they feel pressured to be always available. Or they may genuinely have a lot of work. But it is really important to learn how to manage time effectively when remote working and set working boundaries for yourself, your family, and your colleagues to avoid burnout7.
When working from home, it may indeed feel as if the work never ends1. The main reason behind this feeling is that remote workers rely on technology for communication, which allows the employee to stay connected at all hours and locations2. As a result, employees may feel like they must be constantly available to deal with work queries or they end up over-working unwittingly. One professional study of 2,000 US employees conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic found that 1 in 5 employees reported working more during this time, totalling up to an average of an extra 26 hours per month (almost an extra day per week)3.
Remote work advocates have suggested that the ability to stay connected at all hours could lead to the inability to unplug from work4, while empirical research states that it leads to an intensification of an “always on culture”, creating a vicious cycle, whereby one person overworking leads to colleagues feeling the pressure to overwork, and the cycle spreads to new employees5.
On the other hand, it may only feel as if the work never ends because the employee is not great at managing their time and workload. An organisational psychologist explained6 that in order to manage time effectively, an employee must have a good understanding of how long tasks take to complete (temporal awareness), how they manage their time (prefer to work under pressure or have things done in advance) and how to ensure they don’t procrastinate (time monitoring). Without these skills, they might be left with long to-do lists which are impossible to accomplish, making it feel like the work never ends.