Microsoft Ignite 2020: Work Trend Index details remote worker burnout, stress, and productivity

The company also announced new Teams features to enhance mindfulness during the workday.

remote worker

Image: iStock/poike

On Tuesday, Microsoft kicked off its annual Microsoft Ignite event. This year, the three-day event is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the virtual event, Microsoft also announced the results of its Work Trend Index. The report details various ways the coronavirus pandemic has impacted remote workers around this globe. Additionally, the company also announces new Microsoft Teams features to enhance mindfulness for telecommuters. Below, we've detailed the key findings.

Microsoft Ignite 2020: Work Trend Index key findings

The Work Trend Index was designed to better understand how the coronavirus pandemic has affected employee well-being worldwide. The report is based on Microsoft Teams productivity patterns and a survey involving more than 6,000 frontline and information workers from countries around the globe including Germany, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Japan, India, the US, and the UK.

According to the report, employee burnout has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. Approximately one-third (30%) of respondents said the pandemic has "increased their feelings of burnout at work." Interestingly, this uptick in burnout is not consistent across all countries.

"If there's one thing our research has shown us, it's that everyone is experiencing this time differently–we're all in the same storm, but are weathering it in different boats," reads a portion of the press release.

In Brazil, for example, 44% of respondents said they felt more burned out due to the coronavirus pandemic. This compares with 31% of US respondents and 10% of Germans who reported this increase in burnout.

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As part of the study, respondents were asked to rank a list of stressors. Concerns about contracting COVID-19 existed as the top stressor globally. The second-ranked stressor related to the diminished separation between personal life and the workday. Feeling isolated from co-workers and "unmanageable workload or hours" rounded out the top four.

The study also sought to better understand options remote employees could use to manage stress related to the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, 70% of respondents felt as though meditation could reduce work-related stress. For remote workers also "managing childcare or homeschooling" this increased to more than eight-in-10 (83%). The report notes various studies detailing the positive effects of meditation on stress, burnout, and more.

"This is why, in addition to bringing curated meditation and mindfulness experiences with Headspace into our virtual commute experience in Teams, we will offer the ability to schedule ad hoc or recurring time for mindfulness breaks anytime—before a big meeting, say, or when you need to focus on an important project," reads a portion of the press release.

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The report also includes findings from other Microsoft Research Group studies that illustrate "surprising productivity benefits of our once-dreaded commute," per the release. The report notes that this commute may have offered productivity advantages. These findings were based on a 2017 Microsoft remote worker study.

"Commutes provide blocks of uninterrupted time for mentally transitioning to and from work, an important aspect of well-being and productivity. People will say, 'I'm happy I don't have to commute anymore. I'm saving time.' But without a routine for ramping up for work and then winding down, we're emotionally exhausted at the end of the day," said Shamsi Iqbal, principal researcher at Microsoft Research in a press release.

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