Microsoft study: Close to one third of Asia Pacific’s remote and firstline workers are facing increased burnout at work


Lack of work-life balance and contracting COVID-19 cited as top stressors, as outlined by Microsoft study which focuses on employee wellbeing

 

SINGAPORE
– Media
OutReach
 – 29
September 2020 – Workers in Asia Pacific are facing increased
burnout due to lack of separation between work and personal life as well as worry
of contracting COVID-19, according to Microsoft’s latest Work
Trend Index
report. On average, close to one third of
workers in Asia Pacific cited increased rates of burnout over the past six
months, with the lack of separation between work duties and personal
obligations as negatively impacting their wellbeing.

 

Surveying
over 6,000 information and first-line workers across eight countries globally
including Australia, Japan, India and Singapore, the study found that Singapore
and India were the top two countries in the region with workers facing
increased burnout, at 37 percent and 29 percent respectively. In addition,
close to 34 percent of Asia Pacific respondents cited worry about contracting
COVID-19, due to the lack of tech or protective equipment provided by
businesses to effectively socially distance, resulting in increased stress
levels.

 

“In
the last 6 months, we have seen how COVID-19 has contributed to the evolution
of the workplace — from a physical space to one residing in a virtual world. As
businesses adapt to a new way of working, it is important to examine the
multifaceted impact these changes are having on employees and provide relevant
and timely solutions,” said Rosalind Quek, General Manager, Modern
Workplace, Microsoft Asia.

 

Inspired by this research and conversations with
customers, Microsoft announced the start of a longer journey to evolve its
productivity tools to promote individual
wellbeing and organizational resilience
.
A series of updates have been launched within Microsoft Teams to support
employee wellbeing. These include a virtual commute experience that helps users
prepare for the day and mindfully disconnect in the evening and new insights that
supports managers and leaders in understanding how work happens, and its impact
on employee wellbeing. Microsoft has also partnered with Headspace to bring a
curated set of mindfulness and meditation experiences into the Teams platform
and launched new Teams experiences for Firstline
Workers
 to support them with
the tools they need to work more safely.

 

Key
Findings from the research include:

  1. The
    pandemic increased burnout at work — in some countries more than others
    .
  2. Causes
    of workplace stress differ for Firstline and remote workers
    .
  3. Six
    months in, there are more communications and fewer boundaries
    .
  4. No
    commute may be hurting, not helping, remote worker productivity
    .
  5. Studies
    show meditation can fight burnout and stress during the workday
    .

 

1.    
The pandemic increased burnout at work — in some
countries more than others

In
Asia Pacific, 29 percent of respondents cited that the pandemic has increased
their sense of burnout at work. However, Microsoft’s research showed that everyone
is experiencing this differently. For instance, Microsoft found that 37 percent
of workers in Singapore are experiencing higher rates of burnout than those in
Australia, India and Japan. While burnout can be attributed to many factors,
the chart below explores how longer workdays impact feelings of burnout. For
example, workers in Australia[1] saw the highest increase
in workday span in Microsoft Teams at 45 percent, with a medium increase in
burnout while workers in Germany saw very little change to workday span or
feelings of burnout.

 

Link to image

 

2.    
Causes of workplace stress differ for firstline
and remote workers

The report also revealed that the top stressor shared
globally was worry about contracting COVID-19, followed by lack of separation
between work and life, feeling disconnected from co-workers, and unmanageable
workload or hours. In Asia, the study found that over 34 percent of workers have not been provided
the tech or protective equipment they need to effectively socially distance by
their company, resulting to increased stress levels. This was higher than the
global average by 4 percentage points. In addition, among the stressors
reported by remote workers, the lack of separation between work and life and
feeling disconnected from coworkers ranked highest.   

 

Countries
across Asia also had cited differing factors contributing to work stress. In Australia
and Singapore, the lack of separation between work and life was the top
stressor with 24 percent and 31 percent respectively, with the feeling of
isolation coming closely behind at 22 and 28 percent. However, in countries
such as India and Japan, 42 percent and 26 percent respectively cited the
inability to socially distance and the worry about contracting COVID-19 while
on the job as a top stressor.

 

3.    
Six months in there are more communications and fewer
boundaries

Having
identified lack of separation between work and life, along with unmanageable
work hours, as top workplace stressors, Microsoft turned to usage patterns in Teams for
more insight.

 

Data
showed that globally, even six months past the first work-from-home orders, people are in significantly more
meetings, taking more ad hoc calls and managing more incoming chats than they
did before the pandemic. As people adjusted to remote working, after hours
chats, or chats between 5pm and midnight, have also increased.

 

Link to image

 

4.    
No commute may be hurting, not helping, productivity for
remote workers in Asia

For
years, Microsoft’s research group has been studying how commute has helped
maintain work-life boundaries–and worker’s productivity and wellbeing. A 2017
study helps us understand the productivity benefits of commute time. As part of
the study, a digital assistant used chat conversations featuring task- and
emotion-based questions to help participants prepare and detach from work
through the day. The study found that 6 in 10 people (61 percent) globally felt
they were more productive when the digital assistant helped them ramp up to and
down from work. On average, productivity increased between 12 and 15 percent.

 

The
new virtual commute experience in Teams will help workers have a productive
start in the morning and mindfully disconnect in the evening. Users can expect to
customize their experiences from a set of suggested tasks such as meditation
with the Headspace app, reflecting on the day or helping workers close out on
outstanding tasks.

 

5.    
Studies show meditation can fight burnout and stress
during the workday

Of
those surveyed in Asia, 73 percent said meditation could help decrease their work-related stress.
External research backs this up —
consistent meditation with Headspace can decrease stress
and burnout
and improve
your ability to react to negative feedback.

 

Thus,
Microsoft’s partnership with Headspace will offer workers the ability to
schedule ad hoc or recurring time for mindfulness breaks anytime — before a big
meeting or to find focus needed to start on an important project.

 

As
Microsoft continues to learn more about wellbeing at work, users can expect to
see related innovation continue to be developed across Microsoft 365 and Teams.
For more information on the product updates mentioned in this report visit the Microsoft
365 blog
. You can also read the full research here[2].



[1]
Workday span is the time between a person’s first and last active use of
Microsoft Teams, such as sending a chat, editing a document or attending a
meeting.

[2]Privacy
approach: Microsoft takes privacy seriously. We remove all personal data and
organization- identifying data, such as company
name, from the data before
using it to produce reports.
We never use customer content such as information within
an email, chat,
document, or meeting
to produce reports.
Our goal is to discover and share broad workplace trends
from aggregated data from the Microsoft Graph.


About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent
cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every
organization on the planet to achieve more.

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