After a year of lockdowns and never-ending quarantine, remote workers will likely fly into the worst employee burnout statistics. The idea of burnout almost sounds like an excuse for lazy and disorganized employees when they can’t get their job done.
Before COVID-19, working from home wasn’t so popular. Most companies used to avoid remote work mainly because of the lack of control over employees. Two Stanford professors and a former Stanford doctoral student at Harvard Business School found out that the main causes of stress in US workers are work-related problems.
Long hours and unrealistic demands, for example, have caused almost 120,000 deaths a year and $190 billion in health care costs. Basically, 5% to 8% of the total annual health care goes for workplace pressure ($48 billion), no insurance coverage ($40 billion), and lack of work-life balance ($24 billion).
This data is from those old days when people worked at an onsite office and commuted to work every day. But, what about remote workers? Do they also burnout?
What is Remote Work Burnout?
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress. It is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, low energy, and pessimism towards work.
Scientific research isolates three leading symptoms connected to employee burnout:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Reduced personal accomplishment
Generally speaking, symptoms of employee burnout remind a post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms include intrusive thoughts; nightmares and insomnia; chronic irritability and angry outbursts; fatigue and loss of focus, hypervigilance. Employee burnout leads to severe professional and personal repercussions.
For remote workers, these feelings can result in isolation, procrastination, and low-quality deliveries. Let’s look at statistics to map how the situation changed with the pandemic.
Remote Workers Burnout Statistics in 2021
According to Deloitte’s burnout survey, 77% of U.S. employees have experienced burnout in their current job. 91% say that stress and frustration highly impact the quality of their work, and 83% see a negative impact on their personal lives. Even the most passionate employees feel frequently stressed at work. 70% of professionals think their companies aren’t doing enough to prevent employee burnout and 25% don’t use their vacation time yearly.
Global Shift to Remote Work
Following the global pandemic, Upwork’s “Future of Workforce Pulse Report” reveals that 1 in 4 Americans will stay working remotely during and after 2021. Owl Labs found out that 92% of employees expect to work from home at least 1 day per week and 80% 3 days.
Most remote workers are satisfied with work from home arrangements. On the flip side, many employees experience remote work burnout. For the majority of people, the switch to distributed teams happened overnight. Further, many workers are parents and have kids at home during their working hours.
During the pandemic, 9.8 million working mothers suffered burnout because they had to care for their children and keep high productivity at work. Statistics show that working mothers are 28% more likely to experience burnout than working fathers. Related research reveals that almost 100% of managers believe they support employees with families – while only half of their subordinates agree.
Pandemic fatigue not only results in low productivity, anxiety, and stress for workers. It’s also pushing away women from the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts over 2 million fewer women in November 2020 than the previous year. Covid-19 has a disproportionate impact not only on gender issues. Black and Latino workers, for example, have a higher risk of losing their jobs because most companies put them at the top of their layoff lists.
Countless researchers say that remote work is here to stay. Remote leaders are responsible for their team members’ mental health and well-being, whether hybrid or fully remote. Companies need to consider the risk of remote work burnout and create a company culture that includes each employee.
How to Recognize and Reduce Remote Work Burnout?
Unfortunately, burnout is a reality for many remote workers and it can highly affect their productivity and attitude. The major causes of burnout are unclear expectations, long working hours, dysfunctional work dynamics, lack of remote communication, and micromanaging.
Known as the ‘big four’, these are the leading causes of burnout for remote and on-site employees:
- Lack of control over work conditions
- Deadline pressure
- Disorganized workplaces
- Lack of alignment of values, such as mission, purpose, and compensation, between employees and employers.
Unlike their office colleagues, remote workers deal with the struggle of disconnecting from the laptop or feeling overwhelmed by tasks. They can’t walk away from the office to come back home. One of the higher risks for a remote worker is to lose a healthy separation between personal and professional life. Remote companies need to be aware of this risk and arrange a doable work schedule.
Improving the virtual management system is the first step to prevent remote work burnouts. In a Flexjobs survey, 56% of respondents ask for more flexibility during the working day. 46% believe that mental health days and more time off are the best support against burnout. 28% would feel better with solid health insurance and more paid time off.
Most remote workers believe that companies play a big role in preventing burnout in the workplace from the survey. Respondents will be happy to participate in team activities such as meditation sessions (45%); healthy eating classes (38%); virtual workout classes (37%); desktop yoga (32%); webinars on mental health topics (31%).
How to Prevent Burnout As a Remote Worker
If you are a remote worker struggling with work-life balance, you can take small steps to improve your remote work routine.
One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is developing boundaries between professional and personal life. Ensure to create a separate working space from the rest of the house and schedule hobbies to keep your mind distracted and separated from work. .
When finishing work, always turn off work notifications and the laptop. This step is essential to keep a healthy work-life balance. When you are ‘off the clock’, your manager and team members can’t stay in touch with you – unless there is some emergency happening.
Finally, ask for a flexible schedule and focus on your working hours. For those remote work newbies, the idea of flexible time can be overwhelming. Used to office hours and a strict schedule, it is hard to arrange a working day schedule based on personal needs. Arrange the day by cutting chunks of 3/4 hours to focus on your tasks. Concentrating on your tasks during specific moments of the day will help you cope with flexibility and save time for yourself.
Employee burnout statistics are real – and accurate. Moreover, they are a concern for both employees and employers. Don’t underestimate remote work challenges, and make sure to take care of your mental health!