Bloom attributed the hike in productivity to a calmer environment at home and an earlier start to the workday due to lack of commute. He also found that when people worked from home, they ended up taking shorter breaks, running fewer errands, working the full workday, and clocking less sick days.
Various remote worker surveys complement these findings. In Owl Lab’s 2019 State of Remote Work survey, 79% responded that “increased productivity/better focus” was one of their top reasons for working remotely. In a Talent LMS survey, a whopping 90% felt they got more work done working outside of an office.
The high level of productivity comes with many benefits both for the company and remote employees, but it can also come with a well-being cost. A majority of people working remotely work from home and many find it challenging to leave work “at work” because they aren’t physically leaving an office space. In the same Owl Lab report, remote workers felt just as overworked as on-site workers, making them equally susceptible to the rising trends of burnout.
Part of the reason people working remotely become immersed in their work is that they don’t have the daily interruptions (welcome or unwelcome!) that occur inside an office. They don’t get the lighthearted office banter that allows for a positive break in their day—moments that are small but allow for a little relaxation. It’s also not uncommon for remote workers to work into the evening and at odd hours of the night, resulting in bad sleep and general exhaustion.
In 2019, the World Health Organization declared burnout to be a syndrome resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Reading the definition, you might not think of burnout as a condition that really affects remote employees, freelancers, consultants, digital nomads, and others who generally work from home. But, as evidence shows, working remotely can mean working longer hours, taking fewer breaks, and in general, letting work life bleed into home life—all of which can contribute to burnout.