How to Reduce the Risks Associated With Remote Work

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced the world to the possibilities and benefits of remote work, and many organizations are not going back. With reduced costs, increased engagement, and more enthusiastic employees, organizations have seen the good that remote work options can provide. However, there is one major risk to remote work that is often not discussed: professional isolation. When employees feel isolated, they may feel detached from their work and begin to experience depletion and burnout.


The researchers in this study (Trzebiatowski & Henle, 2023) gathered data from 445 participants across two time points. They measured professional isolation, schedule flexibility, and the extent to which supervisors support employees and their families (for example, by being available to discuss how work and nonwork conflicts can be effectively solved).

The researchers found that employees who felt high levels of professional isolation also experienced higher levels of depletion and lower levels of job engagement. However, this relationship was partially mitigated in two scenarios: (1) when employees had flexible schedules and (2) when supervisors supported employees and their families.


Remote work is not going to go away any time soon. As such, organizations should seek to support their remote workers as best as they can. Based on the findings of this article, organizations can do the following:

  • Identify the employees who are susceptible to professional isolation and provide them with the necessary resources to navigate it.
  • Provide increased facetime opportunities and activities that promote a sense of belongingness among workers.
  • Create clear messaging about what resources are available and cater resources towards those who experience isolation. This may include providing scheduling flexibility and family support.
  • Recognize that professional isolation is not solely a remote work issue. Anyone can feel isolated, even those working in close proximity to each other. Providing resources will aid all employees.


Trzebiatowski, T. M., & Henle, C. A. (2023). Remote but not forgotten: Ameliorating the negative effects of professional isolation through family supportive supervisor behaviors and schedule flexibility. Journal of Business and Psychology, 38, 1267-1286.

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