May 17, 2022

Managing Remote Burnout

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As the world continues to grapple with the angst and fear of Coronavirus variants that taunt us, decisions regarding health and safety have not gotten easier. Workers continue to struggle with options of whether to send kids to school, or if returning to the office is mentally and physically the right decision. And, as more people work from home, work life balance continues to take on a different meaning. In the past, employees viewed flexible work schedules as a perk, something most companies did not offer. However, for most, the paradigm has now shifted to accommodate virtual learning, everchanging schedules and increase social distancing.

The pandemic has been insufferable for many reasons – but remote work has added hours back to the work week, due to the decreased commute to the office, numerous workplace interruptions, even getting dressed (fully) for human interactions at the copy machine as we did in the before times.  However, there are some workers who can’t strike a balance between office and home life.  Walking this line is becoming difficult, as it’s easier to spend extended periods of time working alone in a home office, instead of having set a arrival, break and clock out routine. Studies have found remote workers are working more than they ever have in their careers and in return, are suffering from burnout.

In 2019, The World Health Organization (WHO) reached a milestone, officially classifying burnout as a medical diagnosis, including the condition in the International Classification of Diseases: “A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Burnout is diagnosed by three symptoms: “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”  [1]

Though hard to quantify the impact of remote work burnout, an article by Apollo Technical Engineered Talent Solutions indicates that “while many workers feel they are more productive working from home, others are starting to get stir crazy. Often remote workers feel trapped at home during the pandemic.”[2]

Many organizations are experiencing the affects from remote workers who are struggling and have indicated a decrease of favorable results on employee engagement surveys. Examples of sections that tend to receive unfavorable responses include employee engagement, workplace recognition and career development opportunities. So how do you know if you’re experiencing burnout and if you are, what are your next steps?

Ask Yourself:

  1. Do you wonder why you got into this job in the first place?
  2. Do you find yourself overindulging, just to feel better?
  3. Are you finding it hard to concentrate?
  4. Are you cynical about the purpose of work?

If you answered yes to the questions above, you may be suffering from burnout. So what now? The cure fore burnout starts from within. Below are a few tips that may help. You can also consult with your Primary Care Physician or a Mental Health Professional for additional resources.

How Can Employees Reduce Burnout?

Take advantage of employee assistance programs– An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a company provided resource that offers benefits to employees free of charge. Oftentimes, the EAP is underutilized, simply because employees are unaware such a service exists. Research what programs your organization offer to aid with stress, mental, financial and physical health.

Take a break– We all need to unplug and rejuvenate. Some employees feel that because they are working from home, they shouldn’t take vacation because they may be perceived as “slacking off.” Take the time for needed breaks away from everything. You are a much better employee when you return revived and ready to take on the daily grind.

Be intentional about nurturing workplace connections– Taking time to connect with workplace colleagues  and bouncing ideas off co-workers is a good way to break out of silos. Just because you are remote does not mean you can’t take a 5-minute break to catch up.

The risk of burnout while working at home all day every day is rising. A survey by found that 69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home. [3] To help prevent from falling victim to overworking and draining yourself into oblivion, listen to your body – from your mind and where it wanders, to your body when it needs rest. Remember, a pandemic is still happening and it’s okay to need a mental health day to take a walk, watch your favorite series and just skip out on meetings so that tomorrow you can be at top productivity.