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Multi-tasking and burnt-out, but working Brits are sleeping more than they did in the 1970s

Women are working an average of 13 per cent longer hours compared to the 1970s, while men’s working hours dropped by an average of two per cent, a think tank report has found.

Researchers at Onward found, on average, Britain is not working significantly more, as full-time male workers have seen their hours fall by two per cent since 1974.

While women have seen a “minor increase” of 13 per cent and “overall people are not working significantly longer hours”.

Their analysis, titled Burnt Out Britain, found low-income women and staff on unsocial hours have seen shifts lengthen, while weekend and part-time work takes up more employee time.

These figures come just weeks after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed his ‘back to work’ budget, aimed at addressing Britain’s productivity crisis and getting people back into jobs.

Weekend working has also grown in the past half-century, Onward found, with 18.7 per cent of workers now on shifts on Sundays, versus 8.5 per cent before trading laws were relaxed.

Part-time work has also become more common and takes up more of Brits’ time than in the past, researchers said, rising from 9 per cent of workers in 1960 to 25 per cent in 2022.

Men are working in more of these roles, while shifts now last 34 per cent longer, and just 25 per cent of women are economically inactive, versus 42 per cent in 1974.

The report is aimed at understanding the issues “of a manic modern world”.

Brits believe they are sleeping less, working more and feeling more rushed than in the past, leading them to feel tired and burned out, according to the think tank’s researchers.

But they say while the symptoms are real, the cause has been misdiagnosed – with the true culprit being multitasking and switching between activities.

And the four-day work week, which has grown in popularity since the pandemic, will not offer a solution, Onward argues, as it will not help part-time, night and weekend workers.

Author Jenevieve Treadwell said: “Many of us feel too burnt out, tired and under pressure to participate in civic life. These symptoms are real, but our diagnosis is wrong.”

Onward says in 1974, the average man changed activity 18 times a day, rising to 31 by 2014. Women’s daily activity changes have grown from 23 to 37 over the same period.

“Our push to do it all and reliance on multitasking is breaking down the barriers between different parts of our day,” Treadwell wrote.

“Changing activities more frequently makes our days feel busier.”

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Multi-tasking and burnt-out, but working Brits are sleeping more than they did in the 1970s

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