While many thought it was a temporary measure, it’s safe to say that remote work is here to stay. According to data from Ladders, 25 percent of jobs will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023. Although this working arrangement has changed our lives for the better, there are still unresolved challenges stemming from the traditional work model.
Such is the case of employee burnout; it has been a concern since before the pandemic, but in the remote work era, workplace exhaustion seems to have heightened.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three main symptoms:
- Energy depletion
- Negativism or cynicism toward one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
Burnout can put a strain on a person’s emotional well-being, generally causing insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
From a health standpoint, burnout can trigger high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and even early mortality.
Burnout in the remote work era
Remote work has benefited employees and companies alike. However, this work model has put a spotlight on workplace stress. There are several reasons why employees may be more susceptible to burnout in the remote work era, such as:
Lack of concentration
Numerous studies confirm that characteristics of the physical office environment have significant effects on an employee’s productivity, performance, and ability to concentrate. With so many distractions at home — from video calls to noise and other daily interruptions — it is hard for remote employees to stay focused and engaged. This lack of concentration, in turn, is a contributing factor to burnout.
Inability to separate work from personal life
Setting limits between professional and personal life is something remote employees struggle with, especially since it all happens under the same roof. It’s important that companies encourage the right to disconnect to reduce stress and burnout among employees.
Feelings of isolation
Working remotely means working alone most of the time. Employees have less social interactions, which can prompt feelings of isolation and loneliness. This lack of human interaction is associated with burnout.
What can remote employees do to minimize burnout?
There are many measures employees can take to regain motivation and overcome burnout. Here are a few effective tips:
Recognize the symptoms
Awareness is key — understanding and identifying early warning signs can help mitigate burnout before it turns into a serious problem.
Talk about it
Having open discussions about workplace exhaustion with close friends, family, and even managers can help employees find relief and possible solutions. Counseling can also provide tools and strategies to cope with stress, break unhealthy habits, and regain focus.
Take time to disconnect
Setting limits between work and personal life is key to achieving balance. Employees must take time to focus on themselves, enjoy downtime, and disconnect from work.
There are several techniques to help employees relax. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are perfect to connect mind and body as well as improve emotional and physical wellness.
Pay attention to diet, exercise, and sleep
Diet, exercise, and sleep are essential for good health. Eating well, staying active, and getting enough rest will boost employees’ overall morale.
Even though these actions are helpful, burnout prevention should be a team effort. Companies play a huge role in either aggravating or improving employees’ well-being and work-life balance.
How can companies prevent employee burnout?
Tackling burnout in a remote setting can be especially complex. It is crucial that companies create a culture based on prevention, which can be achieved by taking the following steps:
Effective teamwork is the best way to diminish excessive workloads. Projects and tasks must be distributed efficiently and evenly among team members to alleviate burnout. It is especially important to create opportunities for teams to engage with each other to prevent isolation and feelings of disconnection.
Provide the necessary tools for the job
Teams should have all the tools they need to perform their duties regardless of location. Poor or inadequate equipment is a sign of insufficient employer support and can cause frustration and job dissatisfaction.
Companies should generate initiatives to help cope with workplace stress and promote healthy habits. Examples include offering mental health coverage, encouraging wellness breaks, promoting taking time off, and checking in on employees on a regular basis.
Restrict working hours
Remote work does not mean 24/7 availability. This is something companies should take seriously. Working more than eight hours a day should be avoided, as overworking leads to burnout.
Flexibility is one of the main drivers of employee happiness and commitment. Make sure remote teams have flexible schedules while clearly communicating productivity and performance expectations.
Allow breaks and time to rest
Rest is essential for the mind and body, and is key to maintaining productivity. Allow employees to take breaks during the day and encourage them to clock out on time.
Foster communication and trust
Check in on remote employees and make sure you create a culture based on open communication. When employees feel safe to speak up about mental health and burnout, it helps companies develop timely solutions and improve wellness initiatives.
How Globalization Partners can help
Burnout is very much present in the remote work environment. However, both companies and employees share responsibility and must work together to find solutions and alternatives to avoid workplace exhaustion.
When you’re ready to build or scale your global remote team, let Globalization Partners be your source for expert advice and support. Our AI-driven Global Growth Platform™ streamlines and automates onboarding, payroll, hiring, and HR processes — all while maintaining compliance with country-specific labor and tax laws — so you can focus on implementing strategies to keep employees happy and productive.