Remote work

Remote Work Burnout: What it Means and How to Avoid it

Aug 24th, 2023

Working remotely and feeling tired, exhausted, or even depressed? You’re not alone. Today, more workers than ever before are experiencing the stresses of remote work burnout. 

In 2023, approximately 12.7% of full-time employees work remotely, usually from home or a co-working space, while 28.2% work both remotely and visit the office (this is called the hybrid model). Across the world, 16% of organizations operate remotely, without a central office for their workers. 

While this sudden shift to remote-first and remote-friendly work began before 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated its effects, leaving many workers and employers unprepared to handle remote employee burnout. 

The remote work paradox

Despite the fact that 1) 57% of workers would search for a new job if they couldn’t work remotely and 2) 65% said they wanted to work remotely all the time, many remote workers are struggling with serious burnout. Moreover, 32% of hybrid workers were open to taking a role with lower pay, as long as it meant they were also working remotely 5 days a week.

While remote work is saving workers money & time on commutes, expanding the talent pool, and widening the opportunities for workers around the globe, some workers are showing burnout symptoms of depression, being burnt out, and loneliness. 

Almost 70% of workers said they felt burnout from talking exclusively on Slack, Zoom, and other digital platforms. Some common complaints include fatigue, lack of work-life boundaries, and loneliness. Without face-to-face interactions, more than half of remote workers say they don’t feel connected to their coworkers. 

The remote work paradox for employers

When the world shuttered in early 2020, remote work became a bandaid for businesses, schools, and other organizations. As the world slowly re-opened, some businesses and organizations realized they no longer needed their office space and could in fact drive similar results without an office at all.

More than 3 years later, many workers are in new jobs, businesses have changed, and some workers are exhausted. While some employers are demanding that their workers return to the office part time or full time–including Google, Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, the New York Times, and others–other organizations are sticking with remote work. 

With an average cost savings of $11,000 per worker, remote work is benefiting companies as well. Yet not all companies are implementing strategies to keep workers from burning out. Some employers want to have their cake and eat it too, meaning they want to enjoy the employer savings of remote work without developing solutions to save workers from burnout. 

Remote work anxiety 

In the days of office work, it was easy for managers to keep an eye on their employees and their needs. 

Some companies have turned to surveillance, with 60% of employers using some form of monitoring software to track their remote workers’ productivity. Others have embraced micromanagement, requesting consistent updates and offering less freedom. For workers, this anxiety, paired with loneliness, has led to the majority of remote workers experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

Unfortunately, the majority of workers (70%) feel that their employers aren’t doing enough to help stop the effects of burnout. On the contrary, they feel that their employers are making their burnout symptoms worse. 

Remote work burnout negatively affects personal relationships

It’s no surprise that in a recent survey by Deloitte, 83% of remote workers said that remote work burnout was negatively impacting their personal relationships. With no clear boundaries between work and life, some remote workers report feeling disconnected from their friends, families, and loved ones. 

Causes of remote work burnout 

  • No work-life separation or balance

  • Feeling alienated or lonely–no face-to-face interactions 

  • Micromanagement 

  • Not enough support from leadership 

  • Poor communication in the workplace

  • Proximity bias–business leaders value those who are perceived as physically closer and promote them at a higher rate

Symptoms of remote work burnout 

  • Poor sleep or insomnia 

  • Physical problems such as headaches, migraines, high blood pressure and feeling ill

  • Feeling of sadness, anger, or frustration

  • Inability to focus on one task at a time 

  • Lower engagement 

  • Feelings of emptiness or despair 

  • Work-induced anxiety, depression, mania, and mood swings 

  • Feelings of failure, incompetence, or insecurity 

Overcoming remote work burnout

The good news is that millions of remote workers across the world report an improvement in quality of life, happiness, and satisfaction. They report spending more time with families and less time commuting. For some workers, the remote work revolution has enabled them to pursue opportunities that otherwise would not have been available. 

Even as some employers demand that workers return to the office, many companies will continue embracing remote work, remote hiring, and the hybrid-remote work model. 

Tips for preventing remote work burnout for workers

  1. Build breaks into your day for exercise and meals

  2. Block out time on your calendar for tasks, especially if you don’t have meetings 

  3. Set boundaries for yourself, which means turning off email and Slack to disconnect from work

  4. Live a healthy lifestyle, which includes indulging on nutritious meals

  5. Give yourself time in the morning to prepare for the day, as well as time in the evening to unwind

What employers can do to support burned out remote workers 

  1. Make sure employees take time off

  2. Encourage workers to build exercise into their day-to-day schedule

  3. Clearly communicate expectations, goals, and company roadmap

  4. Avoid favoring workers who live close to business leaders/visit the office

  5. Have an open conversation with workers who seem burned out 

Remote work laws

As remote work becomes more common across the globe, some companies, including Colombia and the Netherlands, have passed laws to protect remote workers and protect workers’ rights to remote work.

In many countries, remote work laws dictate that workers must have an ergonomic work environment, with a comfortable seat, desk, and computer monitor. In some countries, employers must evaluate the remote worker’s space to ensure it is compliant with all work-from-home laws.

If the legislation passes, remote workers across the world will feel better physically, helping to reduce remote worker burnout from physical activity.

Working with an EOR to support your remote team

If you're hiring remote workers in a new country, one step you can take to ensure you're caring for your global team is offering all the benefits they deserve. 

For companies without a local presence or entity, offering health insurance, time off, and other benefits can be challenging. Oftentimes, they decide to just hire workers as contractors, which can lead to burn out and even misclassification fines 

By working with an EOR, you can start onboarding full-time remote workers in days, as opposed to months. As your partner abroad, you will work closely with a customer support manager, who is there to provide support as you build and structure your remote hubs. 

Why companies partner with Via

Via makes hiring talent around the world and building your global team seamless by helping you onboard workers in as little as 2-3 business days. With our easy-to-use platform, Via helps you manage local HR processes for direct employment such as work visas & permits, employee data privacy compliance, benefits, global payroll, background checks, and more. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts provide 24-hour local support and ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad. As your employer-of-record/entity abroad, Via assumes responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team.

Need help building your global team?

Alex Torres
Alex Torres
Alex Torres is the Head of Content Marketing at Via. Previously, he's written for a number of startups, including Pathrise, Bubble, and Business Insider.

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Frequently asked questions

  • Does remote work cause burnout?

  • Are remote workers more prone to burnout?

  • How do I stop remote work burnout?

  • Why is remote work bad for mental health?