The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a spike in workers’ stress levels, with more than two thirds saying that this is the most stressful time of their careers. While some of that stress is due to health and existential concerns, much of it is associated with work. The fear of being laid off; the exhaustion of endless Zoom meetings; the concern about how to manage our careers; and the pressure of juggling work, parenting, and household responsibilities add up to a heavy burden of stress that can easily affect workers’ close relationships at home.
In normal times, working and living in separate places provides some buffer between employees’ home and work lives. The distinction between personal and professional selves is common across cultures, and it has benefits. Although we always carry some of the impact of work home, we can physically leave toxic cultures, difficult meetings, and problematic colleagues at the office. No longer. Those forced to work from home now have no such hiding place, switching a potential sanctuary from work stress to the arena in which it plays out.