Sep 20, 2021 - Economy

The pandemic made our workweeks longer

Illustration of an overhead view of many different hands and computers on small round tables

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The average American's workweek has gotten 10% longer during the pandemic, according to a new Microsoft study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Why it matters: These longer hours are a key part of the pandemic-induced crisis of burnout at U.S. firms — and workers are quitting in droves.

Between the lines: Microsoft calculated the length of the workday based on the time between Teams users' first email, message or work call and their last. So the longer workweeks don't necessarily mean we're working more, the study says.

  • People may be spending more time logged on because they are distracted with other obligations while working from home and so are less productive.
  • This contributes to burnout because the lines between work life and home life are increasingly blurred, experts say.

What to watch: The pandemic has pushed a growing number of firms — and entire nations — to experiment with four-day workweeks.

  • Studies have shown that workers are happier and more focused with shorter workweeks. Therefore they're more productive and just as much work gets done.
  • Those experimenting with this structure are hoping it'll address the pandemic burnout.
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