How to counter the invisible employee burnout caused by remote work

Remote work can have hidden negative effects on employee wellness.

Remote work has many obvious benefits — no hassle or time wasted on commuting, more autonomy, no business attire expenses — and some workers say they would voluntarily take a 10% pay cut to work at home.

But, with nearly 1 in 7 employees in the US now working from home all the time, it’s important to consider the numerous potential negative effects of remote work. A 2023 survey of 44 academic papers found that “Remote workers typically experienced low levels of positive feelings, triggering unpleasant emotions, and developed burnout syndrome and an acute response to professional stress.”

The outcome was bad for both workers and businesses. “Employee burnout and turnover, emotional and physical wellbeing, and work stress affected work–life balance and led to adverse job outcomes.”

It turns out escaping home stressors and socializing with your colleagues is important! The solution, according to the academics is more stress on virtual support. “Workplace social support is needed for technology-mediated remote work to improve professional engagement and the psychological wellbeing of employees.”

Key Issues Identified:

  1. Isolation and Loneliness: Without the daily interactions that come with an office environment, employees may feel isolated, which can lead to depression and anxiety.
  2. Blurring of Work-Life Boundaries: Remote work can blur the lines between professional and personal life, leading to longer working hours and difficulty in disconnecting from work.
  3. Reduced Physical Activity: Commuting to work, walking to meetings, and other office activities keep employees more active compared to a sedentary home office environment.
  4. Burnout: The constant connectivity and the pressure to be always available can result in significant stress and eventual burnout.

Strategies for HR Professionals:

1. Foster Virtual Social Interactions:

  • Virtual Coffee Breaks: Encourage casual virtual meetups where employees can chat informally.
  • Team-Building Activities: Organize virtual team-building exercises and social events to strengthen team bonds.

2. Promote Work-Life Balance:

  • Set Clear Boundaries: Establish and communicate clear working hours to ensure employees know when they are expected to be online.
  • Encourage Breaks: Remind employees to take regular breaks and use their vacation time.

3. Enhance Mental Health Support:

  • Mental Health Resources: Provide access to mental health resources, such as counseling services and stress management workshops.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Offer programs that support employees with personal and work-related issues.

4. Improve Virtual Communication:

  • Regular Check-Ins: Managers should have regular check-ins with their team members to offer support and gauge their wellbeing.
  • Effective Communication Tools: Invest in reliable communication tools and platforms that facilitate seamless interaction.

5. Create a Supportive Work Environment:

  • Ergonomic Assessments: Provide guidance or resources for setting up a comfortable and ergonomic home office.
  • Professional Development: Offer virtual training and development opportunities to keep employees engaged and growing in their roles.


Remote work is here to stay, but it requires a proactive approach to mitigate its hidden negative effects on employee wellness. HR professionals play a crucial role in fostering a supportive and engaging virtual work environment. By prioritizing mental health, promoting work-life balance, and encouraging social connections, businesses can ensure their remote employees remain healthy, happy, and productive.