COVID-19 led to a shift in the professional world. When the lockdown was put into effect in several countries, workspaces went digital. As a result, the screen time of employees increased manifold, which increased the number of employees suffering from digital fatigue.
Digital fatigue is a state of mental exhaustion and disengagement that an employee reaches after using digital tools and applications for a prolonged period of time.
It is not a secret that digital fatigue leads to lower productivity and ultimately affects a business’s revenues.
6 Steps to Protect Employees From Digital Fatigue
Encouraging employees to take regular short breaks, ensuring that employees have optimal resources at home, communicating with the team on a regular basis, etc. are some of the ways in which an employer can protect the team from digital fatigue.
Here’s an in-depth look into the steps an employer can take to protect their employees from digital fatigue.
1. Discourage multitasking
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, discourage your employees from multitasking too much and too often. When we talk about the digital space, working on different things at once can exhaust the employee.
People may find it difficult to concentrate when they focus on too many tasks, simultaneously, for too long. Working on multiple tabs at once will hamper employees’ work quality as the attention span required for a particular task will get divided. Studies reveal that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40%.
Working on multiple things together can also lead to several errors and result in wastage of time when the employee has to correct those errors. In some cases, people may lose track of the original tasks they are supposed to be doing. In a study done by Microsoft, their employees took, on average, 15 minutes to get back to intense mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to emails or instant messages.
Hence, the next time you ask your employee to write an important email, be sure you give him enough time before asking him to start working on something else.
2. Follow the K.I.S.S Principle
Simplifying a task should start at the briefing level. Clear and concise briefs lead to simpler executions.
It is always better to follow the K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Silly) principle. When a task can be carried out in a simplified way, avoid complicating it. Simplifying a task should start at the briefing level. Clear and concise briefs lead to simpler executions. It makes no sense to have the employee put in extra hours for tasks that can easily be wrapped up in a shorter period.
Also, it is 2021, and automation has taken over the world. Many task management tools can help automate your tasks and relieve your employees. The less time it takes to complete a task, the better it is for the business.
3. Say NO to unnecessary meetings
Meetings have been reduced to group video calls during the pandemic. However, there is a downside to it. Contrary to the office setup where the meeting room would be available for a limited time, we are now meeting virtually from our homes and have no restrictions on the duration.
Prolonged, unnecessary video calls hamper an employee’s productivity. If a problem can be solved without a virtual meeting, do it. Try solving it through an email. And if it isn’t possible to solve the issue via email, instead of calling the entire team, limit the participation size of the video call to the person(s) directly associated with the issue.
You can also try scheduling the meeting for a limited time so that you know when it’s time to wrap it up. Yes, we are missing talking to humans while working from home, but excess of everything is bad. Isn’t it?
4. Keep that front camera off
Working from home has certainly replaced the dreaded long meetings, but its virtual counterpart has its share of problems too. Employees are expected to be well-dressed, maintain good posture, and present a good ambience for the video calls.
Often, these calls can be without prior notice and sometimes, even at odd hours. Employees become more conscious of their surroundings during video calls, adding to their stress and leading to video call fatigue.
The best option here would be to ask your employees to keep their videos off unless necessary. In case you have your group calls on a platform where it isn’t possible to turn the video off, ask your employees to block the camera when they aren’t talking. This will help them be more at ease.
Another option to reduce video call fatigue is to ask employees to go for neutral, plain backgrounds while they’re on call. And here’s the trick: many video calling apps support technology to replace the actual background with something suitable for the occasion.Here's the trick: many video calling apps support technology to replace the actual background with something suitable for the occasion. Click To Tweet
5. Encourage short breaks
Things were simple in the office. Whenever you felt exhausted or overworked, you could just get up and get some coffee while having a little chat with your work bestie. But things are different at home. With the absence of colleagues, people sometimes forget the one thing they loved the most- breaks.
Encourage your employees to take short breaks while they are working from home. Continuous exposure to the screen contributes to digital fatigue and also damages their eyes in the long run. A person might end up feeling exhausted due to too much screen time.
Thus, taking these little breaks can help your employees refresh their mind and focus on better work.
6. Avoid notification influx
One notification from work can impact a person’s head. While official conversations have shifted to WhatsApp or other instant chat services, it’s true that not every message needs immediate action.
People tend to read text messages on their phones even after their working hours, whereas they typically check their work emails during work hours only. So if you have some information to share with your employees and it is past their working hours, it would be wise just to send an email so that they can look at it the next day. This is especially important when your employees are working from home where the demarcation between work and personal life is already blurry.
We hope the points listed above can help you protect your employees from digital fatigue and lead to a healthy and productive working atmosphere.