To advance, many employees work after hours on covert projects. Even if this kind of overwork has become the norm, there is a sneaky downside.

Beth, an international marketing manager from Toronto, is on vacation in Europe, but she still feels tied to her job. That’s because she still puts in hours outside of her regular workday by doing things like checking in with her colleagues via WhatsApp and listening to “a ton” of podcasts in her line of work. “I’m about to get on a train and go to my Italian office to say hi, on my holiday,” she says. “Do I have a problem?” Although millions of knowledge workers’ workdays have been growing longer—and in many cases, longer workweeks have become the norm—a lot of work still gets done outside of the typical workday, regardless of its duration. Consider the tasks that aren’t technically working but use the time away from the office, such as reading work-related stories that appear on social media during the weekend or listening to business podcasts while exercising.

These after-hours responsibilities are nothing new for employees. However, since the epidemic changed how people work, the distinction between personal and professional life has grown blurry, which makes it even simpler for these behaviors to happen. Although they don’t feel like work in the traditional sense, these quiet, even hidden overwork moments nonetheless work. It’s also getting harder for employees to shrug off as this extra effort turns into a tacit expectation, making it nearly impossible to ever switch off.