The past two years have witnessed some drastic changes in the working culture of the millennials. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven many companies to shift to work from home paradigm and provide online training to employees. This step not just ensured steady productivity, but also saved employees from the deadly virus.
But every change has its own share of pros and cons. Even though this work from home or remote work culture is very beneficial for both employers and employees, it has come at a price. With more and more people spending their time online, an additional problem is arising, and that is digital fatigue.
We can define digital fatigue as the sense of stress, exhaustion, or anxiety caused because of regular use of digital tools.
Spending hours in front of the computer and completing digital tasks might have ensured high productivity of the employees, but it has also brought physical and mental strain, making digital fatigue a new normal.
So how do we know if we are suffering from digital fatigue? Here are some common signs and symptoms of fatigue resulting from our overwhelming dependency on digital space.
If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, then there are chances that you are suffering from digital fatigue. Then it’s time for you to take a step back from your daily routine and pay extra attention to your health.
Even though the causes of digital fatigue are self-explanatory, let’s list down a few that are pretty common among the employees.
With the workplace shifting online, employees do most of their tasks virtually. Working on usual day-to-day activities, sending emails and attending zoom meetings, all have increased their time spent on the computer. This has led to prolonged screen time putting employees at the risk of physical and mental strain. Many employees complain of suffering from eye strain and headaches caused by too much screen time.
Virtual overloading has also added to the intellectual drain among employees as it makes them feel they are working just too hard.
With the repeated cycle of online working, the line between work and home has become heavily blurred. This has made it harder for employees to disconnect from their work once office hours are over.
Another reason behind the inability to switch off at the end of the workday is monitoring devices. With more and more companies shifting to remote work culture, HRs are adopting monitoring systems to keep track of their remote employees’ performance. Many employees agree that monitoring systems make them feel pressured to be always online, causing them stress and fatigue.
In a remote work environment, most things depend on the internet. Poor internet connectivity can leave employees with stress because of the inability to perform their tasks on time.
Another form of distraction can be, for instance, a new guest arriving at home, but you have a meeting to attend. You will neither be able to attend your guest nor fully concentrate on the meeting.
In-office, employees have many options to keep themselves engaged. From taking help from colleagues to discussing things out with the manager, employees can keep themselves involved with work without feeling the need for constant engagement.
When working remotely, employees do not have many options to interact with others, leaving them with the feeling of isolation. This often leaves them with a sense of constant need for engagement, further causing them anxiety and fatigue.
As we can see there are some unavoidable reasons behind the cause of digital fatigue among employees. Contrary to what many believe, remote workers actually find it harder to get-off work, but that does not mean that we can not combat this issue. There are several ways for employees to keep up with productivity without feeling digital fatigue.
Here are some highlighted tips that employers and employees can follow to check and overcome digital fatigue.
Offer flexibility to your employees. Rather than evaluating employees’ performance by the number of hours they are online, evaluate them on the basis of their target achievements. Studies have shown that flexible work culture is directly linked to more employee retention.
Rather than making your employees go through hours of online training, adopt a microlearning approach by providing training content in small yet much more focussed chunks. This will take less screen time and your employees can learn the skills they need in their jobs.
Employers can ask for feedback from their employees to know if they are fine with the working culture of the company. Ask your employees for ways they can feel more engaged in the work and avoid burnout. No one will give you better ideas than the employees themselves.
Make sure to take some break while sitting on your computer for long hours. Several studies say that sitting for long hours in front of a computer cause many physical and mental issues. Reward yourself with 5-10 minutes digital breaks after every two hours. Take a walk, do some stretching or yoga, look at pleasant surroundings, in short, do anything but look at your screen.
The first step to solve any problem is to know that you are having a problem. With so many things happening around us, it gets easier for us to ignore the warning signs our bodies keep throwing on our ways. Learn about do’s and don’t of working online. If you feel any symptom of digital fatigue creeping in, it’s time for you to check your digital screen time and do some readjustments. Remember nothing matters more than your health.
If you are feeling digital fatigue or burnout, reach out for help to your colleagues or employer. You never know, your employer may allow you to have regular screen breaks if you are performing your tasks efficiently. The whole point here is that they will not know unless you tell them.
Remote work culture might have brought many options for people to maintain a healthy work-life balance but everything is not how it looks on the surface. With more and more hours being spent on laptops, desktops and tablets, the amount of me-time and social time is getting shorter day by day. So what we really need is to create a more human-centric design and revive a healthy work culture in the virtual world.