I have read an article with a study conducted between August 2019 and August 2020, conducted on 300,000 people, that showed that productivity for remote workers increased by 5%. You might think that this is incredible but the cost that this came for will leave a mark for years to come. When the pandemic begin, employees began working on weekends at a 4% higher rate. The so called tele-pressure came with the assumptions made by employees that they should be available day and night, week-end or workday as they are working from home. This surely impacted one’s mental health, relationships and family (especially if your partner is not working in IT). 

Companies did not step in to keep this under control, so people were “tolerated” in this behaviour while all around them media is throwing death cases counts and bad press. So people continued with this bad behaviour, stuck in their homes in a perpetual quarantine with just work on their hands.

Hopefully this now has a name and it’s called toxic productivity.

So, if you are mistaking activity for achievement, you are surely a victim of the toxic productivity. The mentality that your current level of productivity is never enough is exactly the toxicity I’m talking about. I’ve discovered this in my behaviour as well. I start the work at 7:30 – 8:00 AM and stop around 6:00 PM with no break for lunch. I’m not catering for more hours, so no overtime, no extra pay, just me doing my work and trying to show that I’m always there.

Work isn’t bad and should definitely make you feel accomplished. The toxic productivity pushes us towards the other direction, slowly, slowly. And before you know it, the most enjoyable tasks turn into self-punishment.

I have found couple of ways to fight this, so I’ll be sharing them here.

1.  Shed your guilt – admit that you have too much on your plate. It might seem hard to say it, especially since everyone around you has too much on their plates as well, so most surely your co-workers are experiencing the same pressure as yourself. Do not be so hard on yourself, we have different qualities and skills. Remember this is not a wheelhouse.

2.  Create a culture of help – it can be easy to fall into old patterns, checking emails on the week-end or after 6:00 PM on your phone, or late in the evening. But asking for help or support from co-workers will actually make you more productive. Help others and ask for help. Show empathy.

3.  Mindfulness – Try to integrate some mindfulness in your schedule. Think carefully about why you do what you do, and make sure that you approach actions, meetings, and projects with intentionality. Don’t just take on tasks because you think that they’re important or because they seem like a good use of your time.

4.  Don’t be afraid to disconnect – Do not forget about those carry over vacation days. Time off is probably the best way to tackle the toxic productivity. The same study showed that 79% or the people responding intended to use more vacation days, but they never got around to do it, so they carry over vacation days. 82% said that if they take a bread, they wouldn’t unplug completely from the computer and they check the work multiple times during holiday. Let’s stop and have fun, it’s our vacation. I can tell you for a fact that work will still be there when you get back.