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Remote work burnout: How a positive workplace culture can help

Remote work burnout: How a positive workplace culture can help

May 24, 2023

5 mins read

Employee Experience

Burnout is certainly not a new concept. But since its recognition by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases back in 2019, people are taking it more seriously. 

While it is yet to be classified as a medical condition, burnout is “defined as ‘physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.’”

Recently, researchers are studying burnout as it relates to remote work, where it refers to a state of chronic exhaustion, mental fatigue, and decreased motivation that can occur among people who work remotely or engage in remote work for extended periods. 

In a recent study by Gallop, where results showed that the percentage of people who always worked from home before and after COVID-19 feel burnout very often 11% more of the time. That number is over double for those who worked in an office prior to the pandemic. 

Remote work burnout can be triggered by a variety of factors which include, but aren’t necessarily limited to: 

  1. Increased workload, from working beyond the typical work day.
  2. Lack of social interaction with colleagues. 
  3. Difficulty managing work-life balance. 

As employers continue to adapt to managing a distributed workforce and remote team, they must be aware of the potential for remote work burnout, and address this potential challenge. One effective way to get ahead of this is by creating a positive remote work culture

A positive work culture can play a crucial role in mitigating remote work burnout by fostering a supportive and engaging environment. 

5 ways a positive workplace culture can help combat remote work burnout

  1. Emphasize clear communication: It’s imperative that a positive work culture clarifies expectations and supports regular check-ins, and open channels of communication help remote workers feel connected and informed. You’ll also want to emphasize the differences between communication types, from informal check-ins to more formal follow-ups, so it’s more than clear to your team.
  2. Make an effort to recognize and appreciate employees: Whether it’s offering recognition in a meeting, or sending a token of appreciation (like an egift card or company swag), companies need to regularly acknowledge the contributions of their distributed team, as well as provide constructive feedback, and celebrate successes.
  3. Promote a positive work-life balance: As a leader in your company, or manager of your team, you are setting the tone for your entire organization’s values about work-life boundaries. Be sure you’re only contacting employees during business hours, and encourage your teams to take their breaks, lunch meetings, and vacation time so that they are clear that their lives outside of work are important. 
  4. Support in-person team collaboration and support: While virtual collaboration is entirely feasible thanks to technology, nothing can replace the power of in-person time. Utilizing on-demand coworking spaces to provide team members who live close together the opportunity to connect with each other on a regular basis can have powerful effects. You can also plan all-hands work weeks on a yearly or bi-yearly basis (or as often as your budget allows). No matter what you plan for in-person gatherings, you can’t discount the importance of your team getting face-to-face time, either with their peers or with other like-minded professionals. 
  5. Value learning and professional development opportunities: Make sure you’re offering wide access to a variety of online trainings, webinars, or workshops so that your team can expand their knowledge. Managers and leaders might consider offering the opportunity to pursue soft fascination (like hobbies) as well, which can help support them emotionally and mentally.

A positive work culture is created to foster a sense of belonging, which can be quite challenging for remote teams. If managers and leaders are able to consider the needs of their remote workers when establishing their remote work culture, the hope is that it can combat feelings of isolation and reduce the risk of remote work burnout.

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