Virtual working has harmed workplace social etiquette with at least four in 10 employees having either worn pyjamas or failed to put on trousers at least once while attending virtual meetings in the past 12 months, according to a new survey.
The survey of 2,027 UK and US-based remote workers found wearing pyjamas (30%), not wearing trousers (11%), shopping online (23%), playing computer games (15%), or exercising (12%) were activities undertaken by employees during online meetings.
Other activities include having private conversations with friends in the same meeting (31%), doomscrolling (12%), job searching (9%), or browsing dating websites (5%).
Of particular worry to employers will be the 9% of workers who admitted to drinking alcohol or being drunk at an inappropriate time.
The YouGov survey commissioned by AI transcription app Otter.ai also suggests remote working is here to stay despite workers experiencing “Zoom fatigue”.
Some 42% of respondents said they had experienced such fatigue during the pandemic, with 20% believing the experience has gotten worse the longer they work from home.
Conversely, more than half of respondents said remote working has improved their work-life balance, with less than one in five finding the opposite.
Respondents listed poor productivity (41%), control over working hours (32%), an inability to leave home due to work (27%), a lack of collaboration (24%), an inability to sleep properly (22%), struggling to stay in contact with friends and family (22%), and a negative effect on family life (14%) as ways Zoom fatigue has affected their work lives.
Despite the fatigue experienced by some, 39% of workers believe they will work remotely indefinitely, 36% believe in a partial return to the office in the future, and 24% are already working in the office some of the time
Some 14% of respondents want a return to the office full time when it is safe, while 20% never want to return to the office, and 45% want to work between one and three days per week in the office when safe to do so.
When our work regularly spills over into nights, very early mornings and weekends, it can prevent us from recharging fully
The top reasons among workers for continuing to work from home include: avoiding the commute (51%); more flexible working hours (34%); more productivity at home (26%); fear of catching viruses (22%); more sleep (21%); not wanting to wear work attire (15%); less family time (15%); and better diet at home (11%).
Office gossip (43%); better workstation setup (36%); eating lunch out (25%) and out-of-office socialising (20%); time away from spouse or partner (12%) and not having to care for children (10%); and flirting with colleagues (6%) were all cited as missed workplace activities.
The survey results come as junior bankers at Goldman Sachs complain of “workplace abuse” due to an average 95-hour working week that was negatively impacting their physical and mental health.
In a slide deck entitled “Working Conditions Survey” analysts at the investment bank reported unrealistic deadlines, being shunned or ignored in meetings, and “excessive monitoring or micromanagement” by senior management.
Responding to the criticism, Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon said the bank would move to enforce its “Saturday rule” banning work from Friday at 9 pm until Sunday morning.
“It's great that this group of analysts went to their management,” said Solomon, adding: “Just remember: if we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we're reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance.”
Aware of the fatigue facing its workers, rival bank Citigroup has announced that each working Friday will be a day free of internal video calls.
Announcing “Zoom-Free Fridays” and “Citi Reset Day”, a firm-wide holiday on 28 May, in a blog post, Citi chief executive Jane Fraser said: “We are busier than ever, but please try to limit scheduling calls outside of what had been traditional working hours pre-pandemic and on weekends.
“We are of course a global company that operates across time zones, but when our work regularly spills over into nights, very early mornings and weekends, it can prevent us from recharging fully, and that isn't good for you nor, ultimately, for Citi.”