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How to avoid remote employee burnout

angry stressed out young woman working on laptop at home and throwing up documents

Working from home might seem a lot more comfortable, but remote employees are no less vulnerable to burnout than on-site employees.

According to the Global Workplace 2021 Report, 43% of respondents in over 100 countries have experienced burnout in 2020, an increase from 38% in 2019.

If you are running a business and working with remote staff, it is your responsibility as a leader to be vigilant about employee burnout and how to prevent it.

What is remote employee burnout?

Remote employee burnout is when you, as a remote worker, experience physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion as a result of overworking, prolonged stress, or work-from-home fatigue.

Several other factors, such as longer working hours, miscommunication between employees and employers, and constant pressure to always be available, contribute to this burnout.

A study from Indeed showed that 61% of employees find themselves working more hours than normal, with 67% saying it has only worsened since the pandemic.

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This is a prevalent issue in remote jobs as employees fail to balance work and personal life, making it difficult to separate themselves from their jobs and leading to burnout.

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What is remote employee burnout

Symptoms of remote employee burnout

Symptoms of remote employee burnout are not always obvious, which is why you must remain aware of the following signs.

  • Physical symptoms – Remote employee burnout may manifest itself physically in the form of headaches, dizziness, stomach problems, fatigue, or body pain.
  • Decrease in productivity – If your employees’ outputs have worsened over time, it may be a sign that they are overworked and cannot function properly.
  • Change in attitude – Your employees may face mood swings or feelings of negativity if all they do is work without taking care of themselves.
  • Working after hours – If your employee has not logged off yet at the end of the workday, it may be a sign that they are still mentally working, leading to increased exhaustion.
  • Increased leaves – Using up more leaves than usual is a telltale sign that an employee needs to rest.

Causes of remote employee burnout

Remote employee burnout can be caused by several factors, such as:

Overworking

Overworking usually happens when there is an increase in workload or demands from clients or managers. This means added expectations and more energy put into working.

A Bloomberg study found that remote employees worldwide often work extended hours (up to 10 hours a day) and fail to disconnect from their jobs, increasing the risk of burnout.

Isolation

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Mental Health America’s 2021 survey revealed that 48% of remote employees lack emotional support from fellow coworkers.

Because of the nature of remote work, employees rarely get to have meaningful interactions with their colleagues as they often end up being confined in their own homes.

This removes the necessary collaboration and social interaction needed for a positive working environment.

Unclear expectations

Unclear expectations are among the common hiring challenges that any company can face.

According to Buffer’s research, 17% of employees experience difficulty with communication when working remotely.

Companies are responsible for communicating their expectations to their employees. If these expectations are unclear, it only leads to employee confusion and stress.

5 tips to prevent remote employee burnout

When employees find it difficult to take care of themselves, it is the company’s responsibility to assist them in combating burnout.

1. Encourage regular break times

Because remote employees are responsible for managing their own time, do not take it against them if they choose to take a break from work every once in a while.

Regular breaks are important for taking care of minds and bodies, which in turn, will help increase productivity. Remote workers will return to the task at hand feeling refreshed.

2. Schedule consultations

Having some personal, one-on-one conversations with your employees can make a huge difference as they can use the opportunity to talk about their problems.

As a leader, use this time to listen with empathy while offering ways to help your staff if they mention feeling burnt out.

Doing so takes a huge load off their shoulders as they are assured that someone is there to help.

3. Offer professional development

Employees may experience burnout due to a lack of fulfillment. Providing them opportunities to grow and learn new skills that will advance their career is a great way to prevent burnout.

These can come in the form of workshops, mentorship programs, or online courses. They will empower your remote workers and push them to achieve something greater.

4. Evaluate workload

Burnout is caused by employees doing more than they can handle, regardless of whether the business is busy or not.

Regularly checking your employees’ workloads will help you determine if they can accomplish everything or if something needs to be reassigned or postponed.

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5 tips to prevent remote employee burnout

5. Keep work hours separate from non-work hours

Even if working remotely enables people to remain in contact at any time, receiving messages or notifications outside work hours can increase stress and anxiety.

Encourage setting clear boundaries between work and personal life with your employees, as doing so will allow them to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

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