Digital Fatigue in the Modern Work World (INFOGRAPHIC)

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Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

Following the onset of COVID, the world saw a shift to remote work that was far larger than ever before. It was such a large and important shift that 78% of current remote employees want to continue remote work for the rest of their lives. 

The convenience of remote work and realizing the lack of a need for a physical department in many industries has revolutionized how people conceive of working. Although this is not all without consequence, there are some serious trade offs that come with remote work that must be addressed.

The most major of these consequences comes in the form of digital fatigue and inefficiency. Digital fatigue is defined by a few key factors. First, the general way in which a zoom call is oriented is ripe for producing anxiety and discomfort.

This is because of a lack of personal space, reduced mobility, the challenge of nonverbal communication, and the mirror effect. A video call will show each participant’s face much closer than you would realistically see in a physical workplace while also cutting off their body. This creates a lot of awkward eye contact and reduces nonverbal signals. 

Video calls also show each member themselves in the corner of the screen, this produces the mirror effect, basically making each participant much more anxious and nervous about how they’re being perceived than they would normally be. These are solvable but widespread issues.

All of these factors together make it so 49% of remote workers feel exhausted on camera. 23% of remote workers even say their Zoom fatigue is worse now than it was when the pandemic began. This would all be okay if these meetings were necessary, but that doesn’t quite seem to be the case either.

83% of remote employees spend up to 33% of their work week in video meetings and, concerningly, 71% waste time every week due to either an unnecessary or canceled meeting. 56% of employees want to spend less time video calling, and 42% say they actively contribute nothing to these calls.

This creates an average of 31 hours of unproductive meetings monthly per employee. This only makes it so that digital fatigue becomes worse and worse, and on top of all the downsides of virtual meetings, people miss their coworkers. 49% of remote employees miss seeing, and 44% miss interacting with their coworkers. 

Fortunately, although this is a wide spread and complicated issue, there are proposed solutions. Some companies such as RedRex have proposed a more comfortable digital workplace. Creating a digital building that would have floors and rooms for the employees that worked there, even going as far as to have the ability to “knock” on someone’s door.

This would work to return some of the privacy and efficiency of a physical workplace. Everything would be much more cohesive in an environment like this, and there would be much more practical means for coworkers to interact with each other in less serious circumstances. 

This certainly isn’t the only or inherently best proposed solution, but it’s leading a way forward for the unhappy remote workers that exist today. Society is continually moving to be more and more digital, and the workplace has to learn to adapt to that change.

 

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Brian WallaceAbout the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.