Many employees pursue hidden projects after hours in order to advance. Even while this type of excessive workload has become the norm, there is a sneaky disadvantage.

While on vacation in Europe, Beth, a Toronto-based international marketing manager, feels obligated to work. This is due to the fact that she still puts in a lot of time outside of her typical workday by doing things like using WhatsApp to check in with her coworkers and listening to “a ton” of podcasts relevant to her field 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?” Even if the usual workday has been getting longer for millions of knowledge workers, a lot of work continues to be completed outside of the typical workday, regardless of its length.

These obligations after hours are nothing new for employees. The line between personal and professional life has become blurrier because the pandemic has altered how people work, which makes it even easier for these behaviors to occur. These quiet, even hidden overwork moments work even though they don’t feel like work in the conventional sense. Additionally, it is becoming more difficult for employees to brush it off as this extra effort becomes implicitly expected, making it practically impossible to ever unwind.