Lazy. Unproductive. Poor multitasker. 

Those were the labels many remote workers were tagged with at the beginning of the pandemic. And when report after report showed this simply was not true, many organizations took another standpoint. 

Lacking creativity. Poor communication outside of teams. Lack of innovative thinking. These labels soon followed, as top leadership from most industries felt that not being in proximity to their office everyday was leading their workforce to disconnect and stop contributing in creative ways. 

Once again, reports started rolling in showing us that a lack of creativity and innovative thinking wasn’t the issue – everyone was overworked. The Great Resignation saw such a large percentage of the workforce exit at the same time, those who stuck around saw their task list expand exponentially. When our brains are in fight-or-flight mode, there is no innovation happening. We are simply doing what we need to do to survive. 

Change Proof Gospel: Just because things co-occur doesn’t mean they are fully related and dependent upon one another. 

Workers who remained in their careers or with their organizations took the brunt of the accusations following the pandemic and mass exodus. And the thing is that resilient people will “make it work” as long as they need to, but you shouldn’t ask them to. We already know that overworking our teams leads to stress, depression, impaired sleep, overall unhappiness, substance abuse, diabetes, impaired memory… The list of negative side effects will eventually prevent the miles long to-do list from ever being completed in a sustainable way. Which means organizations are really hurting their bottom line, by hurting their largest investment, their people. 

What that looks like in action: 

More than 60% of people working remotely said their workload has significantly increased

→ More than 30% admitted they are struggling to get necessary work done. 

The pandemic already added so much pressure and extra work to our plates. And we have finite time, energy and attention. In conjunction with The Great Resignation, the saying “there’s not enough time in the day” rings more true than ever before. 

Ironically, the one thing allowing for more productive time in a day, is working remotely. Which means it will be up to the leadership, within each organization feeling these pains, to find creative solutions, to lessen workloads and to prioritize the mental health of their people. 

Sometimes, when we are so overwhelmed – we just need to pause and take a deep breath. And in those moments of pausing, we often see more clearly what the solution or path forward might be. Imagine what a collective “deep breath” would do for our overworked people and understaffed organizations. The chance to see things from a different perspective. The opportunity to exist in a clear mind, perhaps for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. The ability to move forward in a way that supports everyone. My new book, Change Proof, talks about how important it is to Pause, Ask, Choose – and we are seeing no greater example of that than right now. 

Resilient people will “make it work” as long as they need to, but you shouldn’t ask them to any longer.