The global pandemic prompted wide-reaching industries to pivot to remote workforces. Few employees were prepared for this seemingly radical shift even though the work from home trend had evolved by upwards of 400 percent during the last decade, according to remote workforce statistics published by Tech Republic. Those who were unprepared or not well suited to the change grew tired of working from home relatively quickly. Some developed the telltale signs of work from home fatigue and digital fatigue from excessive screen usage. These issues can be overcome with sound policies, infrastructure, and time management strategies.
What is Work from Home Fatigue?
Although a wide range of professionals embraced the idea of remote flexibility, many quickly grew tired of working from home. This lifestyle tends to blur the lines between the end of the workday and the beginning of one’s personal life.
That’s primarily why the grass of the once desired live-work lifestyle has not necessarily been greener for everyone. Some employees no longer want to continue full time due to the sense that work does not end, and staring at screens to communicate causes digital fatigue. Essentially, work from home fatigue involves a feeling of being disconnected from colleagues and existing in a place where tasks never cease.
Signs Employees are Tired of Working from Home
Newly-minted remote workers typically see a burst of energy during the first few months. They find inspiration in not having to face commuter traffic or dress in formal business attire, among others. But when seemingly locked into one space for a 40-hour workweek, managing household tasks, and family members on top of that, a type of cabin-fever stress can result. People tired of working from home often show the following telltale signs they’re exhausted.
- Difficulty focusing
- Increase in work-related errors
- Uneven sleep patterns
- Lack of motivation
- Feel overwhelmed
- Work productivity in decline
- Feeling indecisive
Perhaps the most telling sign involves a general sense of irritability. Many people become increasingly short-tempered and cannot see this trait in themselves. If people in your orbit point out these or other work from home fatigue symptoms, it may be wise to take conditions such as digital fatigue seriously.
Work from Home Fatigue by the Numbers
It’s essential to understand that digital fatigue and work from home conditions are interrelated issues for remote employees. Digital fatigue has been on the rise for many years due to the increase in hand-held devices, televisions, and computers everyday people use. The shift to remote workforces exasperated this growing condition. A reported 65 percent of Americans struggle with a form of digital fatigue, according to a survey conducted by the Vision Council. And 73 percent of those who use two or more screens simultaneously are negatively impacted.
After just six months of the pandemic forcing companies to pivot to remote platforms, upwards of 69 percent of workers reportedly experienced work from home burnout, according to CNBC. Although a majority of employees still tout the benefits of live-work flexibility, most agree that a hybrid experience would be more suitable.
How to Fight Work from Home Fatigue
Not everyone will have the luxury of a hybrid schedule or return to the office full time. An increased number of companies see the tremendous value of maintaining a remote team. The wide-reaching corporate benefits include reduced office space expenses and the ability to tap into talent beyond traditional commuter radiuses. This means a great number of online employees will be tasked with managing their live-work environments and needs. These are ways workers are pushing back on digital fatigue and work from home burnout.
- Reduce multi-tasking efforts
- Streamline workstation to a single monitor or screen
- Reduce electronic meetings to a minimum
- Set a stringent work and personal time schedule
- Maintain a strict sleep regimen
It’s also crucial to plan breaks that resemble those in brick-and-mortar workplaces. Coffee breaks and a full lunch period away from the sounds of incoming messages and emails allow workers to take mental hiatuses. In other words, don’t allow work-related interruptions to upend your well-deserved quiet time.
[Read More: Stress in the Workplace]
How Can You Avoid Zoom Fatigue While Working from Home?
Zoom fatigue tends to impact remote workers because videoconferencing communications place an increased demand on people’s cognitive abilities. The condition has been associated with the popular Zoom platform, but it applies equally to FaceTime and Skype. The mental health decline linked to Zoom fatigue generally includes things such as forgetfulness, irritability, insomnia, muscle tightness, stress, and friction in an otherwise secure relationship. Rather than continue down the digital fatigue rabbit hole, these are ways remote workers are combating the issue.
- Turn off the self-view option
- Match screen time with non-digital views
- Reduce online meeting lengths by crafting an agenda
- Increase use of phone calls
One of the best ways to reduce Zoom fatigue and other conditions that result from working from home is to take time for wellbeing breaks such as standing up for a stretch or going outside for fresh air. Work diligently to foster in-person interactions and weekend getaways whenever possible.
What Are Employees’ Work from Home Needs?
Employers who want their remote workforce to succeed at a high level would be well served to consider the potential emotional pitfalls. By delivering the tools and policy encouragement necessary to support their work from home needs, the system can deliver significant benefits for staff and ownership alike.
Business leaders may want to consider implementing a work policy that includes digital meetings, non-screen time, wellbeing breaks, and urges team members to use a designated workspace in their home. Tools such as virtual private networks, laptops for company use only, and platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and others unique to your industry are critical to productivity.
Is Working from Home More Stressful than at the Office?
Studies indicate that digital fatigue and work from home fatigue result from everyday people not acclimating well to remote positions. Some simply may not feel comfortable outside the traditional work environment. However, research indicates that work-from-anywhere flexibility remains widely appealing.
As the pandemic waned and employees had options of remaining at home or commuting, upwards of 96 percent indicated they preferred a mix, according to remote workforce statistics published by Flex Jobs. Approximately 65 percent said they preferred to remain offsite. Apparently, a majority find remote work less stressful than commuting and office gossip.
Work from Home Fatigue can be Overcome
The pandemic advanced the natural progression from traditional work environments to remote productivity. Many employees were not prepared and lacked the experience as well as the infrastructure necessary for the transition. But by crafting policies, habits, and structures that encourage positive outcomes, an increased number of people may find the change rewarding.
Explore what it takes to support your employees’ whole-person wellbeing no matter where they’re working in Taking Care of Remote Employees: the key to business success beyond the pandemic.