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Leader’s Guide to Discussing Remote Work Burnout

Motivated and engaged workers are productive and possess a synergy of work ethic that is contagious. However, in the new era of remote work feelings of burnout could affect some remote workers throughout their career. Helping your team recognize and safeguard against burnout is key to sustainable productivity. Discover signals, signs, strategies, and suggestions for helping your remote team identify, avoid/overcome, and talk about the phenomenon of remote work burnout.

remote worker sitting at coffee shop smiling

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a psychological condition that can occur when individuals experience chronic workplace stress. Symptoms of burnout include emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced feelings of personal accomplishment. Burnout can be caused by a variety of factors, including workload, lack of control, and interpersonal conflict, among others.

Signals of Remote Work Burnout

Remote employees who are burned out may express their feelings in different ways, depending on their personality and communication style. However, here are some common things that remote employees may say if they are burned out: 

When employees are burned out, they may feel like they have too much on their plate and are struggling to keep up with their workload. Saying they’re feeling overwhelmed is a common way to express this feeling. 

Burnout can cause employees to feel physically and emotionally exhausted, and they may feel like they can’t continue at their current pace or workload. This statement may indicate that the employee is reaching their breaking point and needs support. 

Burnout can cause employees to lose their sense of motivation and enthusiasm for their work, making it difficult to stay focused and engaged. This statement may indicate that the employee is struggling to maintain productivity and may need support to stay on track. 

Remote work can be isolating, and burnout can cause employees to feel disconnected from their colleagues and the company as a whole. This statement may indicate that the employee is feeling lonely or disconnected and may need more communication or support from the team. 

Burnout can cause employees to question their abilities and whether they are the right fit for their job. This statement may indicate that the employee is experiencing self-doubt and may need reassurance and support from their manager or colleagues. 

If you notice remote employees saying any of these things, it’s important to take their concerns seriously and offer support and resources to help prevent burnout. This may include adjusting their workload or schedule, varying tasks, considering ways to help the employee succeed without punishment for voicing their concern, providing access to mental health resources, or implementing regular check-ins and communication to help remote employees feel connected and supported. 

Remote worker sitting at laptop with hands on head looking frustrated

Signs of Remote Work Burnout

As a boss, it’s important to be aware of the signs of work burnout in your employees in order to address the issue and prevent negative outcomes such as decreased productivity and job dissatisfaction. Here are some things to look for in your employees to observe remote work burnout:  

Burnout can cause a decrease in productivity and job performance. You may notice that an employee is struggling to focus, complete tasks efficiently, or meet deadlines.

Burnout can cause employees to become detached and cynical about work. You may observe a negative attitude toward work tasks and colleagues, a disengaged demeanor, or a sense of detachment or disconnection from their job. 

Burnout can cause employees to feel physically and emotionally exhausted, leading to absenteeism or increased sick days. 

Burnout can cause mood swings and irritability. You may observe that an employee is more easily frustrated or annoyed by coworkers, clients, or customers, or may find it difficult to remain calm in stressful situations. 

Burnout can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and stomach problems. You may notice that an employee is frequently complaining of physical discomfort or discomfort. 

Burnout can cause employees to lose their sense of engagement and enthusiasm for their job. You may observe a lack of interest or motivation, or a decreased willingness to take on new challenges or projects. 

If you notice any of these signs in your employees, it’s important to take action to address the issue. This may include offering support and resources, adjusting workloads or work schedules, or making changes to the work environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. It’s important to create a culture that prioritizes employee well-being and recognizes the signs of work burnout in order to maintain a healthy and productive workforce. 

Remote worker at desk looking frustrated with hands on head.

Strategies to Overcome Remote Work Burnout

Don’t be discouraged, alas, there is hope! Overcoming burnout requires a multi-faceted approach that involves addressing physical, emotional, and mental health. Here are some creative ways to overcome burnout, and what leaders can do to help employees:  

Set Expectations for Stretch Breaks

Encourage employees to take regular breaks throughout the workday, and encourage them to engage in activities that help them relax and recharge, such as going for a walk, stretching, or practicing meditation. 

Often remote workers may feel they have to work harder and take less breaks to prove they are productive when working off-site. Set expectations for breaks so remote workers can avoid uncertainty.

Celebrate One Another from Afar

For just a few moments of investment, team members can connect with one another on a virtual card which is priceless.

remote worker sitting at desk smiling at computer

Find ways to celebrate together virtually. Remember the days of “show and tell” when we were in elementary school. Why did we ever stop doing this?

Implement a show-and-tell with your remote staff to help them get to know one another and foster human connections. 

Connecting virtually can include a “fun” meeting   where everyone shares their favorite movie, pics of their favorite vacation, or “share a coffee” together. This can also be as simple as creating a shared doc in which team members wish each other well for birthdays, anniversaries, and other professional or personal celebrations. For just a few moments of investment, team members can connect with one another on a virtual card which is priceless.

Recognize and reward accomplishments of everyone

Recognize and reward employees for their accomplishments, such as completing a project or meeting a deadline. This can help boost morale and motivation. Avoid favoritism and highlight the strength of all team member accomplishments – remember no one wants to attend a virtual meeting and hear the same employees recognized. Spread the joy!

Offer flexible time off

Getting away from the situation that caused burnout can provide immediate relief and an opportunity to enlarge one’s perspective. Offering flexible time off, such as unlimited vacation days or mental health days, can help employees manage their workload and take time for self-care when needed. Talk to your organization about giving employees Birthdays! We all like celebrating that day!

Invite staff to brainstorm

Set a meeting or collaborative doc and ask your remote staff how they would like to be inspired and engaged. Remember, remote work is a relatively new phenomenon, we discover new practices and innovations everyday to work  efficiently and productively together!

remote leader celebrating staff in virtual conference

Provide opportunities for growth and development

Provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow in their roles, such as training programs or mentoring opportunities. This can help employees feel more engaged and motivated in their work. Provide opportunities for remote workers to submit their own creative ideas for managing stress or sharing professional development opportunities.

In addition to these creative strategies, leaders can also take a proactive approach to helping employees overcome burnout. This may include offering support and resources, checking in regularly with employees to ensure they are managing their workload effectively, and promoting a culture of work-life balance and self-care. By taking these steps, leaders can help prevent burnout and create a healthy and productive work environment. 

Implement self-care strategies

Implement wellness programs, such as stress reduction training or fitness challenges, to help employees prioritize their physical and mental health.

Foster a supportive culture

Foster a supportive culture by promoting open communication, encouraging employees to ask for help when needed, and providing access to mental health resources. 

Offer flexible work arrangements

Offering flexible work arrangements if work is project based. Allowing flexible schedules or allowing varied log-in and work time while being available during a certain time during the day for team meetings can help employees manage their workload and reduce stress.

remote worker at coffee shop on laptop

Suggestions for Communicating with Remote Staff

Remember back when you were an employee, before your leadership role, talking to your boss about could be challenging, and even intimidating. Encourage your remote staff to talk to you about their concerns with burnout. Your staff might be wondering, “How Do I talk to My Boss about Remote Work Burnout?”

It’s important for your staff to communicate their concerns in order to address the issue and find a solution to remote work burnout. Talking to your staff about work burnout requires honesty, openness, and a willingness to work together to find solutions. By providing an open door to remote staff and letting them know your expectations fro approaching the conversation in a constructive and proactive manner, you can work together to address the issue and prevent burnout from affecting your job performance and well-being.

Resource for Your Remote Staff

Following is a basic communicate plan to help you and your remote staff discuss the issues and possible solutions for recognizing and avoiding remote work burnout…

How to Talk to Your Boss About Remote Work Burnout

Talking to your boss about remote work burnout requires honesty, openness, and a willingness to work together to find solutions.

By approaching the conversation in a constructive and proactive manner, you can work together to address the issue and prevent burnout from affecting your job performance and well-being.

  • Schedule a meeting: Arrange a meeting with your boss to discuss your concerns about work burnout. This will allow you to have a dedicated time to talk, and ensure that your boss is available and prepared to discuss the issue. 
  • Be honest: Be honest and open about your feelings and experiences. Explain how work burnout is affecting you and your job performance, and share specific examples of situations that have caused you stress or anxiety. 
  • Offer solutions: Come prepared with potential solutions or ideas for how to address the issue. This can include suggestions for changes to your workload, work schedule, or work environment, or ideas for support and resources that may help you manage stress and prevent burnout. 
  • Focus on the impact: Rather than placing blame or pointing fingers, focus on the impact that work burnout is having on your job performance and well-being. This can help frame the conversation in a more positive and constructive light. 
  • Listen to feedback: Be open to feedback and suggestions from your boss. They may have insights or solutions that you haven’t considered, and may be able to provide support or resources to help you manage work burnout. 
  • Follow up: After your meeting, follow up with your boss to ensure that any agreed-upon solutions or changes are being implemented. This can help ensure that you are both on the same page and working together to address the issue. 

For more information on helping your remote team identify and overcome productivity issues, such as burnout, contact us for more information about our Remote Professional Certification. In this certification track, you and your team will learn more about factors related to enhancing remote worker productivity, access, communication, and engagement.

Sign up for our Remote Coach Certification program to learn additional strategies for leading remote and hybrid teams.

Important: This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site.