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​​​​​​WFH has increased Indian employees workday by half hour

As if hurried lunches and endless video meetings were not proof enough, a new study shows that the work-from-home day for Indians got much longer during the pandemic.

A survey of 65 countries by workplace software developer Atlassian found that people across the world were starting remote work earlier and logging off much later. Israelis added 47 minutes to their average workday while Indians spent 32 minutes more at work in April and May as compared to the beginning of the year, as did Australians and Americans.

While work from home (WFH) has taken away long commutes, it hasn’t really added to me-time as much as people had imagined. Hyderabad-based IT professional Puneet Srivastav, who always enjoyed flexi-timing, says earlier WFH was a euphemism for ‘work for home’ and used as an opportunity to finish chores, or squeeze in a doctor or school visit. “Now I am chained to the desk. We are always supposed to be available for meetings,” he says.

The study also indicates that while working remotely, people finished higher amounts of work in the mornings and evenings while productivity dipped during the afternoon. This could indicate employees were taking advantage of the extra flexibility of WFH but that it could be encroaching on what would have previously been free time. This shows how boundaries between home and office blurred during the pandemic. The study noted, “Even those without caregiving responsibilities reported struggling to delineate between work time and personal time, and were prone to working long hours without pausing for a break. Over half of respondents said it’s harder now to maintain work-life boundaries than before the pandemic, and 23% reported thinking about work during their off-hours more than they used to.”

As is the case with a west Delhi-based corporate executive who calls WFH “work full hours”. She logs in a 12-hour day and after a break for dinner files a daily report till 2am. “There is no break from work like commute time or the small tea breaks we had in office. Our family — all working or studying from home — has resorted to readymade chapatis and packaged food because no one has no time to cook,” she says.