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Many working Canadians enduring a 'COVID Tax' through the pandemic

Last Updated May 12, 2021 at 10:38 am PDT

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Stress levels and hours on the job have been rising as many continue to work from home, new poll finds

Almost one third of respondents say 'COVID tax' impacting them as they put in more work hours through the pandemic

Within group of respondents working from home, one-in-10 are putting in the equivalent of another day each week: poll

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Working from home during the pandemic seems to be taking a toll on many people, with stress levels and hours on the job both rising.

ADP Canada calls it the “COVID Tax” on working Canadians.

“What we have learned form this pandemic is that time is very precious,” says Ed Yuen, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for ADP. “If you equate time with money, then this notion of a COVID tax is the additional cost in time we are paying as employees in Canada during the pandemic.”

Almost one third of respondents to an Angus Reid poll commissioned by ADP say this “tax” is impacting them as they put in more hours through the pandemic. That number rises to 44 per cent for those doing their job remotely at home.

Within that work-from-home group, the survey finds one-in-10 are putting in the equivalent of another day each week. Only 15 per cent report working fewer hours, while 38 per cent say there has been no change.

Yuen says one of the reasons remote workers are logging more hours is the lack of natural breaks they would normally take throughout the day.

“Whether it’s going between meetings, commuting to work, or having a lunch, what we are seeing now is that line between work and home is blurred and those natural break points don’t exist anymore. Being intentional and scheduling these breaks is paramount, in our opinion.”

He believes employers need to ensure workers are monitoring their stress levels and taking scheduled breaks.

“Employees need to feel supported and like they have a community, especially now during this remote time.”

Stress levels are also on the rise. According to self-reported figures, ADP found stress levels are up seven per cent over the past year, from 34 per cent in April 2020 to 41 per cent in April 2021.

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The survey also found 46 per cent of remote workers are feeling less engaged with their work since the start of the pandemic.

However, Yuen says there is a positive side.

“Workers are feeling more productive with 42 per cent of remote workers feeling that way. And 37 per cent are saying the see increased quality in their work,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“After a year of monitoring how workplaces have evolved and responded to the pandemic, it appears that many companies have moved to flexible work hours or hybrid work models,” he adds.

“While many of these policies were a ‘perk’ a few months back, they are now commonplace. For some, this flexibility seems to have improved productivity and quality of work. Not only has the pandemic brought the workplace into Canadians’ homes, it also brought a little bit of their homes to the workplace.”