Working from home was supposed to be fun. A chance to skip the morning traffic, unpack the dishwasher at lunch and be home before the peak-hour rush.
But the COVID-19 shift to Australia's working environment has led to employees doing more unpaid overtime from their new home office, new research has found.
Of Australians working from home, 70 per cent had been doing work in non-work hours according to the research. On average, workers reported they had done 5.25 hours of overtime a week.
The Centre for Future Work, who conducted the survey, said this equated to 273 hours a year, or more than seven weeks of full time work.
This was up from an average of 4.6 hours in last year's report.
As well, 21 per cent of workers said their employer's expectations had increased during the coronavirus crisis.
The research surveyed 1600 people, of those 59 per cent, or 945 people, were employed.
More than half, 51 per cent, of those employed were working from home.
Centre for Future Work economist and report author Dan Nahum said the research had showed an "insidious trend" that even when people were working from home unpaid overtime was still rife.
"For many the reality is that working from home, is more like living at work," he said.
However, a large number of employees would like to continue working from home.
The research also found one-third of workers surveyed said they would likely work from home more post-pandemic.
But Mr Nahum said this showed stronger workplace protections were needed. He said there was a risk there would be a greater polarisation between jobs that can be done from home and those that cannot.
"Without adequate rules and protections this risks a further incursion of work into people's personal time, poorer health and safety standards," he said.
Mr Nahum said the research showed stronger workplace protections were needed, as well as a strong collective bargaining system. He said workers also needed greater flexibility.
"Something we have seen since the start of the COVID crisis is a bit of resurgence of collective organising among workers and the issue we face do require that so it's important workers wield their collective power," he said.
The research comes after the Australian Council of Trade Unions called for better working-from-home rights.
The union has called for employees working from home to be paid an allowance to cover all job-related expenses.
The ACTU's proposed working-from-home charter would force employers to ensure people are not working increased hours for free.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said greater access to working from home could make life better provided it was sustainable and supported.
"The decision to work from home doesn't mean you surrender your rights at work or your mental health," she said.
"No one should be out of pocket, expected to work longer unpaid hours or not allowed to disconnect."
Most Canberra employees have started to return to the office.
According to a recent survey from the Property Council of Australia 63 per cent of offices were occupied in October, this was up from 46 per cent on September.
- With AAP