Victoria Sambursky

Remote work has increased 159 percent in the last 12 years. With this rise in numbers also comes increases in stress and pressure. In fact, over two-thirds, or 69 percent, of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home (WFH), according to Monster. The lines between home life and work-life are now blurred. And even those who had already been WFH struggle to deal with shifting job responsibilities. How can you deal with these challenges? Follow us as we discuss the signs that may signal you have remote work burnout and five steps you can use to combat it.

What is Occupational Burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially classified occupational burnout as a medical condition. The WHO states, “Burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed.” Three factors characterize it:

  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or negative or cynical feelings about a job.

  • Feeling depleted or exhausted.

  • Decreased professional efficacy.

According to Psychology Today, you can’t cure burnout by taking an extended vacation or working fewer hours. Once it takes hold, you’re out of gas, more than mere fatigue. The article suggests good self-care and work-life balance to stop burnout in its tracks. But what about this condition in a remote workplace setting? Is it the same? Different? How do you cope? First, let’s look at the numbers.

Latest WFH Statistics

The Washington Post reported on a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. This research was gathered from three million employees on remote work stats across the globe. The findings revealed:

  • The average workday lengthened by 48.5 minutes in the weeks following stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.

  • The number of meetings increased by 13 percent.

  • The number of attendees per meeting increased by 13.5 percent.

Another survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America (MHA) also gathered some sobering data on remote work effects. Their report found:

  • 75 percent of remote workers have experienced burnout. 40 percent said they’ve experienced it during the pandemic specifically.

  • Remote workers are more than three times as likely to report poor mental health (anxiety and depression) now versus before the pandemic. Five percent versus 18 percent.

Work from home burnout symptoms are similar to the WHO classifications. But one of the most significant differences includes the lines that are blurred while working remotely. Harvard Business Review suggests that employees are grappling to preserve healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives. Workers feel they have to signal their loyalty and productivity by working all the time. This mentality results in health problems, family issues, and ultimately – poor job performance. So how can you combat these effects? Below we list ways to prevent/treat burnout to keep you productive, healthy, and sane.

How to Treat or Prevent Remote Work Burnout

Yes, WFH burnout is real. The good news? You can treat it. Rich Lombino, a therapist who specializes in workplace stress, offers these five actionable steps to reduce stress and prevent/treat burnout:

  • Maintain physical and social boundaries. Putting on your work clothes or commuting were physical and social indicators that something has changed. You transitioned from ‘home you’ to ‘work you.’ Maintain these boundaries to signal to your partner, roommate, or children that a shift has happened.

  • Ask for flexibility. FlexJobs and Mental Health America (MHA) states that flexibility in the workday (56 percent) was overwhelmingly listed as the top way a workplace could help reduce burnout.

  • Take part in Virtual Health solutions. Take a healthy eating class, a virtual workout class, or sign up for webinars about mental health topics.

  • Limit social media, news, and alerts. Read the news only once in the morning and once at night and end it there. Turn off work alerts on both your computer and cell phone at night. This is especially important for those who work in multiple time zones. And reduce your time on social media.

  • Walk around while you’re on a call. Walking while talking gets your blood pumping and increases circulation.  It brings oxygen to your brain and throughout your body. This action increases energy, alertness, and mood. It’s also a great way to get in your steps for the day.

Remote work can bring both challenges and benefits. Implementing these five steps in your day-to-day living will reduce burnout and make a difference in both your work and personal life. Remember, we are all in this together.


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