← back


Are Your Remote Workers Getting Bored To Death?

January 31, 2022, 5-min. read
Are Your Remote Workers Getting Bored To Death?

In 2007, Swiss business consultants Philippe Rothlin and Peter Werder published a book that started a new phenomenon. In the publication, they suggest that low mental strain at work, which makes you bored, can lead to a mental disorder very similar to burnout. They call it Boreout.

According to the writers, the long-term feeling of boredom at work makes people irritated, cynical, and paradoxically, they feel tired and their self-confidence decreases.

Ever since the theory has faced a lot of criticism, not only for turning a relatively common phenomenon, boredom, into a mental illness. After all, the writers lack any psychological or psychiatric background, and rather than the mechanics of the mental disorder itself, they focus on the practical side of things and their external manifestations. You would also search in vain for Boreout in the list of mental disorders published by the commonly recognized American Psychiatric Society. 

However, this does not mean that you cannot be bored almost to death at work.

Building a team from square one | Free e-book

According to some studies, people who are often - or for a prolonged period - bored at work, in fact, die sooner. Of course, they do not get bored to death, but boredom more often leads to the search for other outlets and stimulants such as alcohol, less healthy lifestyle choices, or potentially risky activities.

Why do people get bored at work?

There are several reasons. On the one hand, there may be a problem with the tasks they receive. If they cannot keep them busy, they are too simple or routine, or if they see no purpose or practical benefit in what they do, they will sooner or later become bored with them. It is no wonder, then, that among the employees who most often experience boredom at work, you can find graduates, resp. young people to whom their bosses entrust rather simple tasks.

At the same time, employees themselves often bear part of the responsibility for this as they act passively, do not address the discrepancy between their expectations and ambitions, and the effort they put into things. In addition, due to boredom, they can perform even simple tasks for a long time and with mistakes, which in turn confirms that their superiors cannot trust them with anything more complicated.

A high salary that does not correspond with the low complexity of the work and performance can also contribute to this to a large extent. People then do not want to give up their relatively good jobs and remain in the position where they are chronically bored and dissatisfied, but comfortable. They find themselves in a golden cage that they do not want to leave voluntarily. 

Bored to death

Never miss a LutherOne article or e-Book: SUBSCRIBE

Captivated by boredom

Quite logically, bored employees look for ways to have fun and often try to disguise the fact that they are actually bored. You can see that they have several browser tabs open and when someone passes by, they quickly switch from the holiday catalog to a spreadsheet. They may even be among those who come to work first and leave last as they stretch out their work to fill up the whole day even if they could manage their agendas in just a few hours. 

The fact that they actually devote only a minimum of time to their work, and rather pretend to work for the rest of their working hours, may not be apparent immediately. Especially when they often talk about how overloaded they are. Plus, they often even feel that way. In addition, they usually have several strategies to deal with the issue. This includes tapping the keyboard furiously without actually typing anything, or dissecting tasks in as few parts as possible so that they last as long as possible. Yes. Really.

However, when you ask these people how they feel, they will claim that they are dissatisfied and unhappy. They would like to do a job that would entertain and engage them. Unfortunately, they will not do anything to accomplish that themselves. 

How is it possible that companies are willing to pay and retain bored, and dissatisfied employees?

The causes can be different. Numerous studies suggest that 15-43% of people in companies experience boredom repeatedly at work! So you may be paying some of them, too. 

How to keep your people from being bored?

First and foremost, train your managers so that they are really good at what they do. Guide them not to judge their people by the time they spend at work, but by the outcomes. At the same time, teach them how to set reasonably ambitious goals, involve their people in their definition, and distribute less exciting tasks evenly. Make sure they breed trust and empower people to deal with more complex assignments. And also teach them to talk to their people, about their ambitions, plans, development, and career paths.

And last but not least, make sure to continuously track satisfaction, engagement, and how involved they feel. You might be surprised.

Free Demo

Get the latest news straight into your e-mail