2020 will be remembered for a lot of things when it’s all over, but perhaps the biggest is COVID-19 and, for many, The Year of Remote Work. What came with that, oftentimes? The Year of Remote Work Burnout.
Pre-2020 there was a certain cadence to the week in offices, and a defined line between your “work” place and your “home” place. Those lines blurred for millions this year, and remote work burnout became normative.
You might contextualize it as “Zoom Fatigue” or “I can’t remember the last time I left my house,” but burnout has devastating consequences for mental health and productivity — and it's affecting up to 82% of remote tech workers. It's clear that it deserves our immediate attention.
Above all, remember this: remote work burnout is largely not a technology issue. You won’t fix it by pivoting from Zoom to Meet, or using SMS more. It’s a people issue, which means it’s a leadership issue. Leaders need to create space for breaks and reflection, and take their foot off the meeting gas from time-to-time. This is about understanding gives your team energy, and what drains them of it.
And now: an investigation into remote work burnout and some ways top companies are starting to address it.
Digital Ocean, 2019
Cornell & London Business School, 2020
Glint People Science, 2020
Owl Labs, 2020
Eagle Hill Consulting, 2020
University of Chicago, 2016 // Buffer, 2018
Source: https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/04/09/link-loneliness-burnout-work/ & https://buffer.com/resources/state-remote-work-2018/#benefits
University of Wisconson & Ohio State, 2011
Cyberpsychology Journal, 2013
WFD Consulting, 2006
With burnout running rampant among remote workers, you might be wondering if the logical solution is to simply head back to the office.
This is a tempting 'quick fix' but one that doesn't align with the future of work. And going down this path will ultimately hurt staff retention and your ability to attract top talent — 55% of workers say they would leave their job if they were no longer allowed to work remotely.
Interestingly, workers' top reasons for wanting to work remotely are:
Let's also consider the fact that full-time remote workers are 22% happier in their job and plan to stay in their job 13% longer than on-site workers, so going back to the office no longer seems like a viable option for most people.
So, what can we do?
It's up to employers to bridge the gap and find solutions for burnout that will make remote working a sustainable and healthy option for all.
Let's take a look at how some top companies are dealing with remote burnout: