Virtual Employees at Risk of Burnout

Mobile technologies are transforming the workplace and are helping to lift productivity and efficiency, but these technologies are also contributing to increased fatigue and burnout among workers who are putting a lot of the pressure on themselves.


The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), an annual survey conducted by Kelly Services, examines the rise of the highly virtual workforce, characterized by widespread access to mobile technologies, and the impact on workplace productivity, work-life balance and job security.


Almost 170,000 people across all generations in 30 countries, including the Americas, APAC and EMEA regions, participated in the current survey.

More than a quarter of employees (27 percent), globally, say that they feel pressured to stay connected with work outside of normal work hours, through email, smartphones and other online platforms.


More than half (53 percent) say that staying "connected" has increased their productivity, while work-life balance has also largely improved, but concerns about job security and burnout are being felt by a significant number of respondents.


Nearly a quarter of workers (23 percent) report spending no time "connected" to the workplace during their off hours. Almost half (49 percent) report spending up to five hours each week, another 27 percent spend more than six hours per week, with many revealing they spend more than 10 hours per week connected to work during their off hours.


The blurring of the line between work and leisure is occurring across all generations but is most pronounced for Gen Y and Gen X employees and those with a professional and technical background. These workers feel the greatest pressure to maintain contact with their work, even during their downtime.


Asked to identify the main pressures for staying connected with work, the largest share (36 percent) said they were placing the pressure on themselves. Other sources of pressure were coming from employers, identified by 26 percent, "industry culture" (15 percent), customers and clients (14 percent), and other employees (5 percent).


The results also show that workers in APAC feel the most pressure to stay "connected" to their work outside of normal work hours, with 35 percent feeling compelled to stay in touch, compared with 28 percent in EMEA and 21 percent in the Americas.


The most significant increase in workplace productivity occurred in APAC, with 62 percent experiencing gains, compared with 50 percent in both EMEA and the Americas.


Almost one-third (32 percent) say that the use of mobile technologies has contributed to fatigue or burnout.


The report also highlights that only 29 percent say that the online technologies have improved their job security. However, 60 percent would consider telecommuting -- working mainly from home or away from the office -- if that were offered.

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