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The coronavirus crisis made the professional lives of workers more demanding, a new study finds & – 2021 Work and Pay Report

The coronavirus crisis made the professional lives of workers more demanding. Working hours reportedly increased by 4% compared to pre-pandemic, according to a new report by, the leading channel for hiring strategic and commercial professionals, and its sister company that provides data-driven insight to employers and job seekers.


The study, compiled from 35,000 data points, reveals working hours increase with seniority in start-ups and corporates. However, they decrease over time in consulting and PE/VC.


With an 8% increase in working hours to an average of 56 hours a week, private equity and venture capital professionals experienced the most significant increase in their working hours, compared to 52 hours a week in 2019. The results revealed consultants and corporate employees are better positioned with no increase in their working hours from 2019 to 2020.

Across all industries and seniorities, working hours were 4% longer. Overall, 53 hours a week in 2020, than 51 hours a week in 2019, indicating that the pandemic made work more intense for the people who retained their jobs. This trend holds true for all company types but is particularly pronounced for start-ups and PE/VC.

So who’s happiest? Happiness with compensation and hours

The study also showed that freelancers and consulting alumni are happier with their pay than consultants and are more satisfied with their working days of 43 hours a week and 50 hours a week, respectively, which drives their overall happiness.

Overall happiness by hours worked is consistent until 60 hours worked per week, but anything above has a profound and negative influence.

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Impact of Covid-19 on mental & physical health

The study also reveals that COVID-19 has negatively impacted professionals’ health – particularly their mental health, with 47% of professionals reporting a negative effect. However, the study was conducted before the second wave; otherwise, numbers could have been higher due to the second lockdown in most European countries.

Commenting on long working hours and their impact on mental health, Nick Patterson, co-founder, said, “In consulting, long hours are driven by uncertainty, and it’s become worse since the pandemic as we are all working remotely. The more clarity you have, the shorter the hours tend to be. It’s as simple as that. 

The onus is on managers and leaders to understand the clarity they want from their teams. There should be more focus on the output of what is achieved instead of what they actually do.

On the flip side, leaders need to act as role models. For example, they should go out for a walk or run during lunch and finish work on time.

It’s little techniques like these that will help businesses achieve a healthier working environment.

We are seeing a massive shift in the consulting market. Consultancies are busier than they have been for years, but fewer people are looking to work in the consulting industry.

Anecdotally, this seems to be driven by the long hours, with days being much harder when working from home.” 


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