COVID-19 Burnout Growing Among Remote Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing more burnout among technologists, according to a new survey by Blind.

Blind, which anonymously polls technologists about their experiences, found that 73 percent of respondents were reporting burnout at the end of April, far above the 61 percent who felt burnout in mid-February.  

Some 19 percent of respondents said that fears over their job security were at the root of their burnout, while slightly more (20.5 percent) said that they had an unmanageable workload. Another 10 percent said that they felt they had no control over their work. 

The widespread switch from in-office work to working from home, driven by COVID-19, might have something to do with this increased burnout. Not only must technologists juggle family responsibilities in addition to their regular workload; in the rush to adapt to a remote-work scenario, companies and managers might not have adequately set up the boundaries necessary for everyone on teams to thrive. For example, unless boundaries and schedules are explicitly delineated, it is very easy for at-home employees to start working far longer hours than usual.

Last year, a survey by DigitalOcean found that 66 percent of technologists who worked from home were burned out, versus 64 percent who went into an office on a regular basis. Some 52 percent of those remote employees ended up working longer hours, and 40 percent said they felt under pressure to contribute more. And that was before the economy uncertainty unleashed by COVID-19.

And according to Dice’s 2020 Salary Report, technologists felt less burned out in 2019 than they did in 2018 (31 percent, down from 35 percent); chief cases of burnout included workload (38 percent), hours worked (31 percent), and lack of recognition for work (29 percent). All those top-polling factors, of course, are present whether or not you’re working from an office or at home. 

But those issues haven’t stopped technologists from preferring to work remotely. Blind, which has been conducting regular surveys of tech workers during COVID-19, found in an earlier study that 64 percent of professionals would prefer working from home even once coronavirus-related restrictions finally lift. The same percentage reported that they were less likely to use shared/common spaces within their companies once the world resumed some semblance of normalcy.

In addition, some 90 percent of respondents said they expected a flexible work-from-home policy to persist well after COVID-19 is finally contained. “If professionals are already demonstrating behavioral changes, employers should value these insights and begin to adapt to these expectations now,” read Blind’s accompanying blog posting. “How a company reacts today and the policies implemented in the near future will impact on what talent pool they have access to in the future.”

But the key to a successful work-from-home experience is to set a firm schedule and boundaries, and solid communication.

For more COVID-19 content, check out the COVID-19 Jobs Resource Center.