Working parents hit by ‘cycle of fatigue’

New study finds employees reporting huge levels of stress and working parents in particular falling into a cycle of fatigue


Working from home is exacerbating an ‘always on’ culture. And parents are bearing the brunt of the stress caused.

Three quarters of UK employees reported suffering fatigue, stress or burnout since last March in a new survey. Among parents the figure was even higher at over 80%.

Most employees said they feel they are expected to work outside regular working hours during lockdown. The resulting cycle of fatigue is affecting all levels of employees. 

Working parents

Unsurprisingly, already tired parents reported higher levels of fatigue. Four in five parents  (81.25%) said working from home left them worn out. With the current lockdown closing schools, parents are relied upon to provide educational support for their children. Nearly half of UK parents want their company to step in to provide childcare support through flexible working hours, online learning support, or other initiatives.

When asked about the negative effects they felt when working from home, 25% of parents reported that their quality of sleep had worsened and 28% went as far as to say that they had felt depressed, anxious or exhausted. In fact, less than one fifth of parents (19%) had suffered none of these consequences of working from home.

Decision makers are being encouraged to break the cycle by adapting their HR and employee wellbeing programmes to address the situation.

Work life balance

The ‘2021 Working from Home Study’ was conducted by virtual team building company Wildgoose. It asked employees from 133 companies throughout the UK how working from home has impacted them, whether they have been able to keep a good work/life balance, and how companies could improve home working practices.

Forty four per cent of employees find they have a heavier workload since working from home kicked in last March and have asked that it is reduced. Following on from this, almost a third (31%) have seen a direct impact on their mental health, stating that they have felt depressed, anxious, or suffered from exhaustion.

The study found evidence that those new to working from home are more likely to work when they feel unwell. Around a third said they’d continued to work despite physical or mental illness. HR teams need to make sure that employees are encouraged to take sick leave when needed and effectively communicate to company’s position on sick leave when working from home.

What do employees want from their companies?

Communication between colleagues was identified as a key measure to better address issues of burnout, increased stress and fatigue when working from home. One in two UK employees stated that everyday casual conversation between employees was needed. Just shy of half of those questioned called for regular virtual activities and fun ‘breakouts’ with colleagues. 

Many of the most prominent issues faced by employees working remotely surround a lack of social interaction – something that is extremely difficult to make up for when staff are not together in the office. With this in mind, Wildgoose have created four new remote team building activities designed to facilitate a valuable connection between employees, however far away from each other they are: Daily Kick-Off, Team Quiz, Virtual Away Day and Virtual Escape Room.


Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser said “We’ve all grown used to home working as the pandemic has continued. But it continues to present huge challenges in maintaining the right work/life balance. With increased workloads and a worrying trend of working through sickness, people’s jobs are becoming ever more blurred with their home lives at a time when it’s crucial the two remain distinct from each other.

“The lack of casual communication with colleagues during the working day is making employees feel more isolated and less motivated without the natural ‘breaks’ away from work. It’s crucial not to underestimate the difference that investing in meaningful interaction can make. As a company we are continuing to innovate by offering remote workforces unique team building activities that reinforce bonds. They’ve seen a fantastic response, and we expect this trend to continue growing.”

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