Surprising remote work burnout statistics [2022 update]

The ‘traditional’ workplace can be a stressful environment for many of us. Demanding bosses, demanding colleagues, unreasonable workloads and long hours at the office can really take their toll on our mental health and personal well-being – perhaps you can relate.

When COVID-19 hit, a new era of remote work emerged and transformed work-life balance for all of us, changing perceptions among employees and employers about working from home.

Many employees have fought to retain the right to work from home, while many employers have tried to resist. Meanwhile, some employees and employers have adapted to a hybrid model – balancing home and office-based work.

For you, the switch to remote work may be a welcome one. However, more than two years after the pandemic began, HR managers are now facing another major problem – remote work burnout.

Global workplace burnout statistics

Burnout in the workplace is nothing new, it has become a global problem – described by McKinsey & Company as ‘the great fatigue’. However, burnout among workers intensified during the pandemic, especially in workplaces that remained open – notably retail, manufacturing and health care.

  • Workplace burnout has reached a record high in 2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak. 43% of people in over 100 countries claim to have experienced a workplace fire, up from 39% in 2019 (Global Workplace Report).
  • 36% of workers say their organization has nothing in place to help stop employee burnout (Thrive My Way).
  • Burnout syndrome accounts for 8% of all occupational illnesses (Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
  • Women are more likely to suffer from burnout than men. 42% of women say they are constantly burned out at work, while 35% of men say they are burned out (McKinsey & Co).
  • Millennials (59%), Gen Z (58%), and Gen X (54%) shared similar burnout rates, while Baby Boomers (31%) had significantly lower rates (Business Health Institute).
  • A higher rate of burnout was reported among middle-income earners, with 44% in the $30,000 to $60,000 bracket. The lowest rate of burnout was 38% in the $100,000 and above bracket (Thrive My Way).
  • Burned out employees are 63% more likely to take sick days and 2.6 times more likely to actively seek a different job (Gallup).
  • 75% of workers have experienced burnout, with 40% saying they have experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic (flexjobs).
  • 67% of all workers believe burnout has (actually) gotten worse during the pandemic.
  • 83% of employees say burnout can negatively affect personal relationships (Deloitte).

Pre-coronavirus pandemic statistics

Burnout in the pre-COVID workplace was at lower levels than the high levels recorded during the pandemic. This is despite the fact that very few employers offer remote work for fear of affecting employee productivity.

However, despite the low incidence of workplace burnout pre-Covid, health care costs related to work-related stress were $190 billion in 2019.

  • 84% of millennials have experienced burnout in their current job (Deloitte, 2019).
  • Women suffer more than men in the workplace (The Independent, 2018).
  • Work stress was the leading cause of burnout in the workplace (Cartiz People, 2019).
  • 57% of people in the UK, 50% in the US, 37% in Spain, 30% in Germany and France say they have experienced burnout at work (We Forum, 2019).
  • In the UK, 15% of workers have suffered a workplace fire due to Brexit (Cartiz People, 2019).
  • One in four employees often or always feels burned out at work, while nearly half report feeling it sometimes (Gallup, 2018).
  • 4 in 10 employees who have worked 50+ hours do not have a burnout program at their company (Clockify, 2019).
  • Only 3 in 10 managers address employee burnout (Clockify, 2019).
  • More than 15 million days were lost in 2019 due to employees suffering from work-related burnout (Curtz People, 2019).
  • Burnout is a growing threat to the productivity and engagement of today’s workforce. People who struggle to balance home and work are 4.4 times more likely to experience symptoms of job burnout (LinkedIn).

Remote work burnout

In the post-coronavirus era, a record number of employees are working from home. In fact, there are three times more remote jobs now than there were in 2020.

However, the impact of COVID-19 on remote work burnout is staggering.

  • 69% of remote employees experience burnout (CNBC).
  • 53% of virtual or work-from-home (WFH) employees are now working longer hours than in the office: nearly one-third (31%) say they are working “a lot more” than before the pandemic (actually).
  • 48% of employees who work from home say they lack emotional support (Mental Health America)
  • 38% of employees experience remote work burnout because they feel pressured by management to work more hours (actually).
  • 21% said it’s a toss-up (really) between pressure from managers and customers or clients.
  • 86% of remote workers experience high levels of fatigue (TinyPulse).
  • 35% of employees who work from home say they attend too many virtual meetings per week (get honest).
  • 61% of remote workers now find it harder (literally) to “unplug” from work during off-hours.
  • 80% of workers are experiencing ‘zoom fatigue’ (sat panja).
  • Shifting from full-time office to full-time remote work increases loneliness by 67 percentage points (The Atlantic).

Home office burnout is the main cause

The three most common causes of burnout caused by working from home include:

  1. Inability to disconnect from work
  2. Lack of motivation at work
  3. A supportive environment is missing

Inability to disconnect from work

The number one cause of remote work burnout is the inability to disconnect from work. As the home becomes the workplace, home-based workers often work longer hours. It’s not uncommon for employees who work from home to sit through lunchtime on conference calls or stay up late into the evening to finish tasks.

On average, remote workers are reported to be working three more hours per day since COVID, causing some significant social and personal challenges as home-based workers struggle to maintain a work-life balance.

To prevent this, employers with remote employees need to implement a strategy that focuses on deliverables and not hours. It is important for employers to set clear expectations – for example, saying that ‘we will talk twice a day during this time’.

Emphasizing an individual’s productivity from the number of working hours enables employees to focus and complete set tasks within working hours. Employees don’t feel micromanaged and employers get the best results.

Lack of motivation at work

Home-based work is incredibly isolating. When people are burned out by work, they want to do everything but work. Scientific research proves that chronic burnout changes brain anatomy and function. In a heightened state of stress, our brain switches to ‘survival mode’, weakening motivation and the will to work.

There are several ways that employers can help remote workers combat lack of motivation in the workplace. One way is to foster a sense of belonging. Employers can start by establishing a set of collective team values. Find out what’s important to your remote and office-based employees, and then identify and create ways for your team to honor those values.

For example, if fun is a priority for your employees, come up with some fun ways to bring your team together and help them bond.

A supportive environment is missing

Remote work burnout statistics show that 48% of remote employees feel they have no emotional support from their employers. Without personal interaction with managers and coworkers, it’s hard for them to know that something is wrong or that you need support. If you’re feeling burned out, you need to be able to communicate that to your manager and colleagues.

Employers can provide support by showing that they care about remote employees and wish them well. Connecting through regular video calls and asking for honest feedback about how home-based workers are feeling is a step in the right direction. It helps build real relationships and trust.
Considering all the remote work burnout statistics, it is clear that there is a big problem, but there are solutions for employers and employees to fight burnout due to working from home – which of course can include a hybrid work – a mix of home- and office based work.

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