Workers of the world are more exhausted than ever.

More than 40% of people with desk jobs feel burned out at work, a pandemic-era high, according to a survey released Wednesday by Future Forum, a research consortium backed by Salesforce Inc.’s Slack Technologies. The pain is particularly acute outside the US, where the burnout rate has been rising enough to offset slight improvements seen by American workers.

Economic uncertainty, fear of job cuts and rising pressure to return to in-office work have added to workplace malaise, Future Forum researchers said. Women and younger workers, in particular, reported struggling with burnout.

Regional pressures are also getting people down. In the UK, strikes have crippled the country as public-sector unions protest what they see as paltry pay increases. Japan’s government has asked firms there to help workers cope with the highest inflation since 1981. French citizens have taken to the streets to protest the government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62, which could result in some concessions around working from home, a government spokesman said earlier this week.

In the US, layoffs are mounting and return-to-office policies are shifting from being recommended to required. However, workers there seem to feel slightly happier than their international counterparts. Only 41% of people surveyed in the US said they felt burned out at the end of last year, just shy of the 42% global rate and a modest improvement from earlier in 2022.

The Future Forum survey — conducted quarterly in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Germany and France — has found that pandemic-era workers with more freedom to choose where and when they work are usually more satisfied, productive and less likely to quit. In the latest poll, conducted late last year, more than half of those who said they were dissatisfied with their level of flexibility also said they were burned out. Employees with immovable work schedules are more than twice as likely to say they’ll “definitely” look for a new job over the next year.

“All the benefits of flexibility are about how you give people focused time, rather than sweating how many days of week they are in,” said Brian Elliott, a Slack executive who oversees the Future Forum research. “Flexibility also improves a company’s culture, and every time I tell executives this, it surprises them.”

It’s not just mandatory facetime that is stressing workers. Companies have thrown so much technology at employees they may be getting overwhelmed. Large employers now use an average of 211 different apps, up from 195 last year, according to a separate survey from Okta Inc., a cloud software company that tracks app usage.

A recent study,  highlighted in Harvard Business Review, of 20 teams across three big employers found that workers toggled between different apps and websites 1,200 times each day, leading to a “toggling tax” that can cost workers time, productivity and peace of mind.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.