Working from home is saving us valuable time, but are we using it wisely?

Posted by for Careers

A new study has found that over half of UK adults are working longer hours than they did prior to the pandemic, and it’s a clear sign of an unhealthy work-life balance. 

Back in March, many of us bid our daily commutes adieu and set up our workspaces in our kitchens, bedrooms and spare rooms. While working from home has undoubtedly caused issues for erstwhile office-dwellers that range from a lack of confidence to increased stress levels, it has also had its upsides.

A recent study by online print manufacturer instantprint has found that many of us have saved a great deal of time as a result of working from the comfort of our homes. In fact, since coronavirus restrictions caused offices to close, it turns out that more than a quarter (27%) of UK adults have saved an average of an hour every day.

That extra hour, usually spent on overcrowded tubes, in traffic jams, or in the wind and rain as we rush back from work to get home, can now be spent doing the things we often couldn’t find time for before, whether that be exercise, meditation or cooking healthy meals

The study, which surveyed 2,000 UK employees, found that a lot of people have been using their newfound time to dedicate to hobbies and downtime, which, according to the Mental Health Foundation, is key to a healthy work-life balance. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, suffering from burnout, or struggling with other work-related mental health issues, it’s important to take a step back and do something for you. 

And that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. The figures show that the most popular new pursuit of UK employees is reading, with 26% using their extra time to make a dent in their “to read” piles. Watching Netflix (24%) and listening to music (22%) come in at second and third place respectively, showing that plenty of people really are grabbing the opportunity to kick back and relax with both hands.

Other pastimes that are on the up since working from home came into force include more domestic activities, such as cooking (20%) and gardening (19%), with 21% taking the time to do more household chores. This could help to free up time later in the evening, which could help people to wind down better before bed. 

Woman reading a book
26% of UK employees are using their extra time to read more.

Since one hour in the 16 we spend awake every day is a pretty significant proportion, it’s heartening to note that only three percent of respondents said they felt they had wasted the extra time they gained since they started working from home. But still, not everyone from the other 97% have been taking their newfound time for themselves.

As the study revealed, over half (51%) of UK employees have been working through their extra hour, and some for even longer.

While this might be a fairly shocking number, it is understandable. When we live in the same place we work, the boundaries between our work lives and home lives can very easily become blurred. But still, taking the initiative to mark out a separation is key to looking after ourselves during these strange times. Particularly since working from home can exacerbate the pressures we face in our day-to-day, making sure we take time for ourselves is of the utmost importance.

If we tot up all the hours working from home will save each us over the course of a year, it amounts to a massive nine days and two hours. To spend all that extra time working when we don’t need to is only likely to make us feel more stressed, tired and, of course, overworked.

A good work-life balance is important to our mental health and our relationship with our jobs. While it’s not always easy to step away from our workloads, it is very much doable. We delve deeper into the impact working extra hours can have on you, and ask an expert for advice on how to get things under control. If you’re struggling to strike the right balance, it’s definitely worth a read.  

For more information on how to maintain a healthy work/life balance while working from home, you can check out our guide.

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