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

Working remotely and feeling tired, exhausted, or even depressed? You’re not alone. Below, we’ll explore exactly what remote work burnout is and how to avoid it.

Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 20, 20244 minutes
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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Today, more workers than ever before are experiencing the stresses of remote work burnout. 

According to Forbes, in 2024, 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). 

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The remote work paradox

Despite the fact that 57% of workers would search for a new job if they couldn’t work remotely, and 65% said they wanted to work fully remote, many remote workers are struggling with serious burnout. While remote work has many benefits, such as 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. 

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 four years later, many workers are in new jobs, businesses have changed, and many  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 some 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 in 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 countries, 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 partner like Justworks, 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. 

Justworks Can Help Manage International Hiring

Choosing the right EOR to help you expand your business internationally can be a game changer. Justworks’ global EOR services enables small businesses to hire international employees quickly, pay them in the local currency, and provide local benefits. It’s hard to know where to start and what to put in place abroad to protect business and your employees. At Justworks, we have in-country legal teams and entities set up to ensure that your payroll is protected and that you’re remaining compliant abroad. 

From access to top talent pools around the world to streamlined international hiring processes, the advantages of working with an EOR (and using Justworks) are undeniable. Get started today

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 20, 20244 minutes

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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