Updated: September 06, 2023

How to Spot Burnout in Remote Employees & Fix It

You found our article on how to spot burnout in remote employees and ways to fix it.

Burnout in remote employees is a situation where workers feel mentally and emotionally tired and unable to fulfill the expectations of their jobs. Signs include low productivity, poor work attitude, and slow communication response. When spotting the warning signs of burnout, it is essential to resolve the underlying issues, prevent the loss of productive work hours, and tend to employee wellness.

This concept correlates with warning signs an employee is about to quit, benefits of happy employees, and employee engagement best practices. Burnout is one of the main causes of employee turnover.

This article covers:

  • how to spot burnout in remote employees
  • tips to avoid WFH burnout
  • ways to fix virtual burnout in employees

Here we go!

How to spot burnout in remote employees

Identifying signs of burnout early and putting measures in place to prevent future occurrences are crucial to resolving the challenges associated with working remotely. The following are warning signals that your remote employees may be encountering this widespread problem.

1. They Show Physical Symptoms

In the context of burnout, physical symptoms refer to often uncomfortable bodily responses to prolonged stress and exhaustion. These symptoms can appear as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, stomach issues, sleep disturbances, and even a weakened immune system. Physical symptoms are a clear indication that the body is struggling to cope with the stress and strain of the workplace. These physical manifestations can affect an employee’s well-being and hinder their ability to perform effectively in their role.

2. Their Creativity Levels Decrease

Decreased creativity is a common consequence of burnout. When individuals are burnt out, their cognitive resources are low, leaving them with limited mental energy to think innovatively. These workers may find it challenging to come up with fresh ideas, problem-solve creatively, or approach tasks with the same level of imaginative thinking they once had. This decline in creativity can affect an employee’s ability to adapt to new challenges, find novel solutions, and contribute positively to their work environment. Recognizing and addressing this decline is crucial for maintaining a productive and innovative workforce.

3. They Do Not Log Out During Breaks

It is undeniable that the advent of remote work has eroded the barriers between the office and the home, with many workers now using the same room for both tasks and recreation. In addition, working from home has eliminated many of our daily rituals, such as grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room or sneaking away for lunch with a coworker. If your employees never appear to log off to take breaks, this might indicate that they are working too much or under some form of pressure. However, it is important to remind employees that they are entitled to breaks and to urge them to use these pauses whenever possible, even while working from home.

4. They Delay Response to Phone Calls, Texts, and Emails

Workers may experience anxiety due to the “always on” attitude of remote work. As the volume of information presented to the employee increases, the speed and clarity of their response may decrease. If a high-performing employee suddenly starts responding slowly, then stop sending emails, Slack messages, and texts, and identify a better means of contact. Such employees may feel suffocated by information and attacked from all angles. A pause in incoming messages can be a reset and a chance for the team member to gather their thoughts and breathe. In a similar vein, many work-from-home parents also take the role of primary childcare provider. Employee burnout may result from connected stress, missed deadlines, and the persistent sense that they need to work outside regular business hours.

5. They Begin Neglecting Self-Care

Neglecting self-care occurs when individuals fail to prioritize their physical and mental well-being. This issue can involve ignoring or deprioritizing activities that promote health and stress management, such as exercise, proper nutrition, sufficient rest, and relaxation. In the context of work-related burnout, employees may become so absorbed in their job demands that they sacrifice essential self-care practices. Neglecting self-care can lead to a vicious cycle of worsening health and increased burnout. Thus, it is essential for employers to promote a balanced approach to work and life that encourages employees to care for themselves.

6. They Never Stop Working

As an employer, you could think it is terrific when an employee works nonstop, but digging into the why can reveal a bigger problem. When employees are stressed, some tend to overwork to distract themselves from their issues. These problems may stem from family life, a lack of human interaction, or a recent bereavement.

7. They Interact Less During Meetings and Hardly Talk About Their Personal Lives

A reserved employee might share less of their stories during virtual meetings. If this is a new behavior, then be wary. Employees experiencing burnout may begin to feel cynical and disconnected from their jobs. Workers become less forthcoming with details about their private lives when they get disgruntled with their occupations. Such employees may consider their job a distraction from their “true life.”

If you notice that every interaction you have with an employee is about work, it may indicate that they no longer regard you as someone who cares about them beyond the job. Burnout symptoms worsen from a lack of interactions at work. Thus this isolation may become a self-perpetuating problem.

Top factors that lead to burnout in the workplace

After recognizing the symptoms of burnout in your staff, you must take corrective measures. It is crucial to find the source of the issue quickly and fix it. The first step toward a solution is gaining insight into the situation. To get started, think about these top five reasons for burnout on the job.

1. Unrealistic or Unclear Work Objectives

Workers can become discouraged and unmotivated when faced with unreasonable targets. In addition, the risk of burnout increases if workers are unclear on their responsibilities or if their tasks change too often with no sense of ownership. Being goal-oriented is admirable, but as a manager, you should recognize the adverse effects of multitasking on the productivity and morale of your staff.

Your objectives should be specific and quantifiable so there is no room for misinterpretation. If you lay out the actions your team should take to reach each goal you set, along with the three to five top outcomes, you will inspire them to go to work.

Here is a list of goal-setting ideas.

2. Long Work Hours

Long work hours refer to the practice of consistently working past the standard duration of a typical workday or workweek. This factor can be a significant contributor to burnout, as it often leads to physical and mental exhaustion. When employees regularly put in extended hours, they have less time for rest, relaxation, and personal activities. These exercises are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Over time, the chronic stress and fatigue associated with long work hours can negatively affect an individual’s well-being. Stress may compromise workers’ physical health, strain personal relationships, and reduce overall job satisfaction. As burnout sets in, productivity can decline, leading to a cycle of diminishing returns. During this cycle, longer hours yield diminishing results, ultimately harming both the employee and the organization.

3. Remote Work Seclusion

It might be difficult for remote workers to prevent burnout when their home and work lives are so entwined. When you are just steps away from your desk, it is hard to resist returning to work. Such workers may end up spending excess time working, which may add to the already stressful situation. Furthermore, remote workers are more likely to feel alienated from their supervisors and coworkers. This situation may cause individuals to put undue stress on themselves to succeed, leading to burnout.

4. Monotonous or Unchallenging Work

Monotonous or unchallenging work refers to job roles or tasks that lack variety, complexity, or intellectual stimulation. This type of work can contribute to burnout by causing feelings of boredom, frustration, and disengagement. Employees who find their work repetitive and uninspiring may struggle to stay motivated and engaged over time.

The absence of interesting challenges can lead to a sense of unfulfillment, reducing job satisfaction. In these cases, burnout may result from the absence of a sense of purpose or accomplishment in daily tasks. To combat burnout stemming from monotonous work, employers can explore ways to introduce variety. Additionally, firms can provide opportunities for skill development and foster a sense of achievement through meaningful projects or assignments.

Tips to avoid WFH burnout

When combating employee burnout, companies should put their workers’ happiness first. However, employee burnout is inevitable unless managers take active measures to prevent the situation. The following are ways to avoid burnout in your remote employees.

1. Hold Regular Check-Ins

Regular check-ins refer to scheduled meetings or conversations between employees and their managers or team leads. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss work progress, challenges, and overall well-being. These discussions are instrumental in maintaining open lines of communication and providing support to remote employees. Regular check-ins help managers identify potential signs of burnout. For instance, managers may notice increased stress or decreased engagement, allowing them to intervene and offer assistance when needed. These talks also enable employees to share their concerns, seek guidance, and feel more connected to their team and organization.

2. Offer Professional Development

Offering professional development opportunities to remote employees involves providing resources, training, and growth prospects. These opportunities empower individuals to enhance their skills and advance their careers. This proactive approach helps prevent burnout by giving employees a sense of purpose and progress in their roles. Professional development can come in various forms, such as online courses, workshops, mentorship programs, or opportunities for lateral moves and promotions. By investing in their employees’ growth and development, employers boost motivation and engagement. In addition, firms reduce the risk of stagnation and burnout, as employees are more likely to find their work fulfilling and challenging.

3. Evaluate Workload

Evaluating workload entails regularly checking in on the volume and difficulty of tasks assigned to employees. This assessment helps ensure that teams can manage workloads within their capabilities and available time. When evaluating workload, employers should consider factors like deadlines, project scope, and the need for overtime work. An appropriate workload promotes a healthy work-life balance, prevents employees from feeling overwhelmed, and reduces the risk of burnout. Addressing workload issues promptly and redistributing tasks when necessary can improve productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. These benefits contribute to a more sustainable and effective remote work environment.

4. Give Regular, In-Depth Feedback on Their Progress

Managers who care about avoiding burnout for their staff should do frequent check-ins. Most essential, it is advisable to provide direction and encouragement to workers who may believe their efforts are fruitless. As the manager, help your staff evaluate their efforts and appreciate those who may feel inadequate. You can help workers relate their successes to the company’s overall objectives. You can also adopt software to manage employee performance to keep the dialogue open and prevent worker burnout.

Check out this guide to giving employee feedback.

5. Set Time for Rest and Mental Breaks

As employees work hard to achieve deadlines, employers may help by ensuring they are not overworked. Using a time clock and punctual clocking off by workers is one of the best ways to fix virtual burnout in employees. It would be best if you insisted that employees take regular rest breaks. Taking mental breaks boosts the productivity and creativity of workers. When managers take time off and encourage their staff to do the same, it sends a message of support and acknowledges the importance of workers using their paid time off.

Management may reassure staff that time off is valued by including rejuvenation breaks in the workplace. However, reacting negatively to their desire to do so is counterproductive and might cost your company money since, according to CNBC, 60% of workers say they would accept a salary reduction to work for an empathic boss who understands the effects of job burnout.

6. Provide Helpful Resources

Employees are often hesitant to seek assistance even when they need it. If your staff works remotely, providing helpful online resources is a good idea. This step will allow the worker to ask for help when they are ready, on their terms, and without feeling pressured to talk to someone.

You should take some time to gather any relevant materials you can find on the internet. In case you or a coworker are having difficulty working remotely, several resources available online may assist. You may even have employees write their case studies and testimonials anonymously. Your remote employees will feel comfortable knowing they are not alone after reading about others’ similar experiences.

7. Set Achievable Goals

Impossible objectives are a sure way to destroy morale and productivity on the job. An employee’s confidence takes a hit, and burnout may quickly arise if they feel like they are racing after a goal constantly shifting. Therefore, progressive and adaptable plans are essential. However, you cannot expect a new hire to perform at the same level as an employee who has been there for three years.

Furthermore, you may encounter roadblocks that call for a whole strategy rethink. In such circumstances, workers should not have to conform to unrealistic or outmoded targets. Adjusting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential, particularly as employees develop within a job.

8. Organize and Automate Work Processes

The mere act of automating a procedure may often free up a worker’s time and attention. If a UX designer, for instance, spends the first few hours of every project re-creating the same framework, they should make a template they can reuse and adapt as required. You should determine where your team is experiencing slowdowns and work to eliminate those slowdowns, whether they are from individual contributors or the constraints of the process. Reducing the number of steps in a process or combining tasks via delegation may increase efficiency, reduce employee discontent, and minimize burnout.

9. Promote Personal Creative Work

Employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs are more likely to put in long hours. Giving your team members some leeway in deciding how they want to spend their time, both at work and outside of it, is vital. If a programmer strongly prefers one programming language over another, they should be given more opportunities to focus on projects that use that language.

Certainly, every worker has duties they do not love but must do. Your position as team leader does not require you to assign responsibilities based on each member’s preferences. Employee development may still take the form of reorganizing an employee’s workload to serve their professional interests and aspirations better. You can prevent workplace burnout by putting workers in positions where they can develop professionally and perform work that interests them.


Workplace burnout in remote employees is a significant problem in today’s working world. Businesses must take responsibility for their workers’ well-being and adjust their operations. Helping remote employees who are often at risk of fatigue and burnout allows leaders to create stronger organizations that will endure for a long time.

To learn more about employee management, check out our articles on ways to improve employee satisfaction and office work-life balance tips.

FAQ: How to spot burnout in remote employees

Here are frequently asked questions about burnout in remote employees.

How do you spot burnout in remote employees?

You can spot burnout in remote employees by paying attention to signs like low productivity, slow response to communication, failure to take time off, and lower interactions. Causes of burnout at work include unclear or unattainable objectives, working in isolation or long hours, and a culture that discourages taking breaks. In addition, staff morale may plummet, and job fatigue can ensue when managers fail to provide enough encouragement and acknowledgment.

What are ways to fix WFH burnout in virtual employees?

If you see any remote workers exhibiting burnout symptoms, it is crucial to take a compassionate tack and ensure they have access to tools to help them recover. You should also set flexible work hours and allow workers to take breaks.

How can you prevent remote burnout in WFH employees?

Your team will be better prepared to face whatever the future holds if you take the necessary steps to get them out of the burnout and into the recovery phase. Some ways to prevent burnout in WFH employees include establishing limits, setting realistic expectations, and offering support.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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