Why are we still tired and overworked?

21 June 2023
Tracey Iskander

Tracey Iskander, co-founder and Managing Director, Marquee

Why is it that even with the new work conditions and flexibility, we still feel tired and overworked?

I’m sure many people assumed that being able to work in pyjama bottoms and Ugg boots and avoiding traffic delays and the pressure of getting out the door, would naturally put us in a calmer, less exhausted, and more relaxed state.

Yet this is not the case for many of us and I keep hearing clients, family and friends say that they are overworked and tired – much like we were pre-pandemic. So what has happened and how can companies help their people with this negative and often unproductive work state?

One reason for feeling like we are overworked is the new notion of ‘always on’. With commutes for part of the week no longer necessary, people are working longer hours being so close to their ‘home office’ and they feel like they are always on.

The University of Melbourne’s 2023 State of the Future of Work study highlighted some alarming observations for Australian workers. An astonishing one in two workers aged between 18 to 54 feel ‘exhausted’ at work, while 40% of all young and middle-aged workers are less motivated about their work compared to just one-third of older workers.

One third of young and middle-aged workers are also three times more likely than their older colleagues to report that they are experiencing difficulty concentrating at work because of responsibilities outside of work.

The pandemic really has changed the way we work – but clearly it isn’t all good news.

There’s no doubt that technology is driving changes in the workforce. These changes include but are not limited to less need to travel, better communication, data management and mobility.  The hype around AI and automation are creating new opportunities like smart personal assistants and robots that can handle low interest tasks like data entry. However tech and AI can also make us feel unprepared and even fearful for what lies ahead.

The same study found that Australian workers are cautious about embracing new technology in the workplace.

Estimates put between 7% and 11% of our  jobs being lost to automation - equating to between 630,000 to 2.7 million Australian jobs. Of course, automation and AI will also create new jobs, but the core challenge is ensuring we are prepared for these new ways of working.

The truth is most businesses are extremely reliant on their tech. Without it, a company will struggle to operate effectively. There are hundreds of platforms that streamline workflows and facilitate the work process – all vital for efficiencies and saving time and money. And technology can also lessen feelings of overwork.

But in essence, employers will need their people to re-skill in response to the technological changes at work. These skills include digital conferencing, social media and digital marketing, among others.

There’s no doubt that technology can improve operations and create clear advantages for both agencies and clients with faster and more reliable communication, enhanced efficiency and productivity, cost reduction, greater transparency, interconnected operations and improved security.

Technology really has become a cost of doing business today and companies need to eschew any resistance to change and invest in training. While some employees may dislike a new system at first – no one really likes change -  they will begin to like it after they get properly acquainted with its proper use and benefits. Then they may wonder why it took them so long to come along for the ride, especially if they get some precious time back in their day.

For business, technology can lead to a better work/life balance and increased productivity. It can also mean reduced costs and a more engaged workforce with menial, low interest tasks assigned to the robots so people can focus on what they want to do at work. In addition, new ways of working and improvements to technology through the use of better systems and workflows can actually help to foster flexible work conditions, creativity and team collaboration.

So as winter is upon us, don’t relegate the PJs and Ugg boots to the wardrobe just yet!


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