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Report: Young adults most affected by Covid-era telecommuting 'boredom'

Workers were commonly found to be over-stimulated in the form of constant video conferences and under-stimulated in the form of repetitive working days.

Etätyöntekijä työskentelee läppärin ääressä parvekkeella aurinkoisena kesäpäivänä Helsingissä 18. kesäkuuta 2021.
There are some perks to working from home, but a recent study found that the arrangement isn't for everyone. Image: Irene Stachon / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Workers in Finland increasingly experienced feelings of boredom and symptoms of burnout during the Covid crisis due to the ongoing remote working situation, according to results of a study from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

The institute's regular survey, called "Miten Suomi voi" (roughly, "how Finland is feeling''), found that remote working arrangements during that year-and-a-half long period had prompted increased negative effects, particularly among those under the age of 36.

Meanwhile, feelings of boredom and burnout among workers who were 36 or older only slightly increased during the research period.

The institute's specialist researcher, Janne Kaltiainen, said that extensive telecommuting affected employees in different ways.

"For some, the amount of work and related rush may have increased, whereas for others, additional stress may have been a result of a narrowed job description and distancing from co-workers due to extended remote working. Both of these factors may increase negative experiences from work and negative attitudes towards the work. At the same time, there are still clearly more positive emotions and excitement related to work," Kaltainen said in a statement.

Boredom boom

According to Jari Hakanen, a research professor at the institute, the clearest change seen in well-being among the employees who were surveyed was an increase in boredom.

"For people who are doing a lot of remote work in particular, the work may have provided over-stimulation in the form of constant video conferences and under-stimulation in the form of repetitive working days and lack of genuinely meeting people. When making immediate post-Covid-19 work arrangements, the workplace should consider that an adequate amount of in-office work seems to be important for finding meaningfulness in the work," Hakanen said.

Hybrid arrangements

The researchers found that people who did their work on a hybrid basis — that is, a combination of remote and on-site employment — felt more engaged and were less likely to be bored.

The study also showed that co-workers tended to trust each other more as they worked in hybrid arrangements.

"The well-being of management personnel has remained at a good level during the pandemic. This may have been a factor in maintaining a high degree of trust towards management personnel and the workplace regardless of whether the work is in-office, remote or hybrid work," Hakanen said.

The "Miten Suomi voi" research project's findings were based on the analysis of data gathered by polling firm Taloustutkimus, an effort which was commissioned by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. A total of 542 working-age people took part in the initial surveys, which were carried out every six months during December 2019 until June 2021.

Then follow-up surveys of randomly-selected workers were carried out, with data from about 1,500 respondents at the end of 2019 and around 1,400 respondents in the summer of 2021.

"This way, the study was able to collect a larger quantity of detailed information about the situations of different respondent groups, such as young people, during specific time periods," according to the researchers.

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