Remote Work Fatigue: Understanding the Condition and Navigating It

Last updated: February 06, 2023 4 min read

We all experience fatigue sometimes. Some may call it temporary or prolonged tiredness or weariness caused by mental or physical exertion or illness, which is easily remedied by getting adequate rest, sleep, or even physical exercise.

In the same way, in-office work can cause you fatigue, though working remotely comes with a plethora of flexibility and freedom, it too can cause you much fatigue. Though this is true, it does not refute the effectiveness of remote work.

If you fall into this fog sometimes because of working from home or anywhere, please be aware that many others like you may have or are currently experiencing the same thing. This article offers insights and advice for navigating remote work fatigue and burnout.

What is Remote Work Fatigue?

It is a condition or state where you experience dissatisfaction, disconnection from your work or team, and even feel unmotivated to do anything.

Often it is the initial precursor to burnout; however, with work-from-home burnout, the feelings described above do not go away as quickly as fatigue does. It runs much deeper and is more sustained, affecting every area of life.

The disconnection could result from feeling isolated from teammates, being that the nature of your work is remote, overworking, being distracted, and the dissatisfaction easily leads to no motivation for work. This phenomenon is also called ‘WFH fatigue.’

Symptoms of Fatigue/Burnout

  • Insomnia
  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of focus/forgetfulness
  • Detachment
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Anger

These symptoms are not just one-time occurrences but continuous over time.

Challenges that Cause Remote Work Fatigue

There are many factors to touch on that cause this type of fatigue. Let us refer to them as remote work challenges and explore how they cause fatigue.

1. Distractions

Distractions are a crucial factor for work fatigue, especially in remote settings. They come in many different forms; some are even more unique for remote work.

Digital distractions, on the top of the list, are 2.54 times more likely to affect employees in hybrid work models. These may fall into either a work or personal category.

Owing to the significant investments made by many leaders of these companies in digital/virtual tools to enhance productivity, the disadvantage is that it has become a source of much distraction.

These distractions may be text messages, personal and work emails, work/personal notifications, unscheduled video calls, or meeting requests.

Distractions stemming from within the home also fall under this category. They may include house duties/chores, responsibilities to take care of family members or small children, visitors showing up unannounced, and responding to deliveries or mail.

2. Overworking

A general assumption amongst many is that remote work may cause employees to idle more. But studies have proven this to be not accurate. Remote workers are more likely to overwork than their onsite counterparts.

The flexibility of remote and hybrid work when abused makes ‘logging off’ or disconnecting harder for some leaving them in an ‘always-on’ mode. Work-from-home fatigue is most often significant when the lines between work and home blur.

When clear strategies or boundaries are not established for a work/life balance, it easily translates into going in overtime and being constantly plugged into your work.

Other reasons for overworking while working from home could also be the need to overcompensate to prove to managers and supervisors that you are indeed working.

It can manifest as 24/7 accessibility and availability, being a ‘yes man’ to every request, and refusing to take breaks, to name a few. In no time, these patterns of behavior wear anyone out.

3. Feeling Isolated

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can take their toll on one’s mental capacity. But how can working outside the office make employees feel this way?

According to Dr. Lawrence Frank, a professor of Public Health, regarding people who were in quarantine isolation during this recent pandemic, humans are social creatures with a certain tolerance and need for isolation.

He continued to say that for many, that need was met, and then they were pretty much in overload or, in other words, ‘isolation fatigue.’

Though remote work is not short of channels for communication and connection, it is the physical socialization that we need as humans. Oftentimes, and as proven by many studies, the lack thereof of physical socialization causes undoubtedly mental duress.

If measures are not put in place by remote teams scattered across different countries and time zones to make communication a priority, then employees may suffer in silence.

4. Broken Lines of Communication

When lines of communication are broken, confusion will arise. This breakdown may be a result of poor cross-communication which manifests as not relaying information accurately, information overload causing information fatigue, incorrect interpretation of information, and being under pressure (high-stress jobs like call centers).

The tension these examples cause among teams, if they are commonplace, exacerbates fatigue for everyone.

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Tips to Combat Remote Work Fatigue

1. Be aware of your bad work habits

Sometimes unhealthy habits lead to overworking. Step back and take stock of your work habits, whether good or bad. See where you can improve on the bad, such as taking too many breaks, which leads to you doing overtime at the end of your workday.

Another bad habit may be taking too many Zoom or Microsoft Teams videos calls for the day, which impedes the progress of your other tasks, leaving you sluggish and drained. ‘Zoom fatigue’ Which is an actual thing, can be diminished by switching it up with phone calls instead or going for a walk while in meetings.

In addition, having no plan or schedule for your day or week can leave you scattered and flustered. Practice creating a daily or weekly schedule, even on slow days where workloads are light, by establishing simple tasks such as checking your email.

2. Practice Taking Breaks

The other side of taking too many breaks is not taking enough. What better way to clear up the mental fog due to overwork or overcompensation?

If you feel intermittent breaks are not enough, instead of banking up on your allotted days off, use them to take time off on days you feel like you need a mental break from work. Sometimes being physically away from your computer screen for a day may remedy your fatigue.

Ensure you ask your supervisors in advance if possible and use discretion with how often you request them.

3. Keep lines of communication open and constant

Be open to socializing with your colleagues about topics outside of work. Since the ability to meet up in a canteen or breakroom or along the halls of a building is non-existent for fully remote work, be intentional in being friendly now and then through your communication channels.

If you are experiencing loneliness, practice striking up casual conversations with your team during lunch breaks or while discussing work. You may attempt this by randomly saying hi or asking them how they are doing.

Also, try planning weekly or monthly team-building activities such as playing online games and answering trivia questions. As previously mentioned, humans are social beings, and we thrive in relationships.

4. Have face-face meetings with your colleagues

Whether your remote team is scattered in the same town, province, country, or across different countries in the world, occasionally face-to-face meetings as often as is possible can be fun and fulfilling.

It can be quite an experience to meet people in real life for the first time. For international teams, try to plan an annual get-together in a country convenient for all to unwind and have fun while getting to know more about each other.

In circumstances where you are physically located near colleagues, befriend them by suggesting going on lunch dates, inviting them to field trips with your friend groups, or even to family dinners depending on the bond you have.

Having fun with people you like or bond with helps release the feel-good hormone, dopamine, which boosts mental health. Other positive effects of dopamine on the body are that it stimulates your creativity, causes you to be more attentive, and improves your sleep patterns.

If it is impossible to meet face-to-face with coworkers, do so with family and friends instead.

5. Switch up your workspace

Change where you work on occasion. Set up a makeshift office space outside your home, in the backyard, or out on your front lawn, anywhere. A change in your physical environment is an excellent way to recharge, reestablish focus, and maybe even helps with feelings of isolation.

Being outdoors with a constant flow of fresh air can do wonders for your morale. Vitamin D from the sun also helps in mood regulation. Your fatigue could be a result of always being inside, away from the sun.

Suppose you like to travel and aspire to be a digital nomad. In that case, frequent trips to foreign countries where you can work from anywhere with your computer and reliable internet could be a viable option.

On a smaller scale, you can visit a café once a week or a relative’s house, rent an Airbnb nearby, or spend your workday at the beach.


There you have it. We delved into the root causes of remote work fatigue and provided practical tips and strategies to tackle burnout and maintain your well-being. Whether it is overworking or constantly feeling isolated, the causes of your fatigue can vary.

But deciding whether to acknowledge your bad work habits by setting boundaries or simply maintaining fellowship with your coworkers, depends on you. Knowing which area your fatigue stems from is essential so you can take or follow the appropriate measure to stop it.