As the business world continues to evolve due to the impacts of the pandemic, workplace standards have shifted to an increase in remote and hybrid working conditions. While this can offer many benefits for employees, it can also lead to challenges such as constant screen time. More work is now being conducted online, with board room meetings transitioning to Zoom calls, face-to-face conversations being handled via email, and in-person events shifting to webinars and other virtual platforms. Professionals today are overwhelmed with the demand for screen time as digital communication has become the new norm for conducting business. 

Digital burnout is on the rise among professionals and can negatively impact mental health, employee morale, motivation and productivity. With this in mind, what do professionals need to know about digital burnout and how to manage it? 

What is digital burnout?

Digital burnout occurs as a result of too much screen time causing constant workplace stress. Digital burnout can refer to feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, apathy, depression or diminished interest in your job, due to the constant use of digital devices. Constant exposure to digital devices for a prolonged period of time can result in feelings of overwhelming stress over your job and working conditions. 

Symptoms of digital burnout

Digital burnout is becoming an increasingly common issue among employees working in business environments. The symptoms and side effects of digital burnout include

  • Issues sleeping or getting a restful night’s sleep 
  • Decreased energy, productivity and motivation 
  • Constant feelings of stress and work related anxiety
  • Feelings of disconnect from friends, family and coworkers
  • Social anxiety 
  • Increased mental distance from work and feelings of negativity regarding work tasks 
  • Reduced efficiency and decline in performance
  • Overwhelming exhaustion

Digital burnout in the workplace

Businesses and workplaces are beginning to see the effects of overwhelming digital fatigue. Employees are spending hours in Zoom calls and facing increased pressure from employers to be constantly available through email. Furthermore, the digital workplace can leave employees feeling distant from their peers, distracted from their day to day tasks, and struggling to manage a work-life balance. With little distance from their screens, employees are not afforded the opportunity to take meaningful breaks away from work to eat lunch, socialize, go for walks and rejuvenate themselves.

Digital burnout has both mental and physical side effects. Business environments, such as the one our team works within, rely heavily on digital devices. While the majority of the day to day tasks business teams accomplish are conducted through laptops, desktops, and screens, workplace environments underwent a number of changes in their operations as a result of the pandemic. Meetings, conversations and interactions that were once done in person now mainly take place online. Without the need to leave your home to go to work, your office – and all of the work that comes with it – is now in your living room. With little reprieve from screen time and feeling the need to always be available to an email, Zoom call, or Teams Meeting, employees are exhausted and suffering the consequences of digital burnout. 

Avoiding digital burnout 

While employers are recognizing the mass onset of digital burnout, the workplace landscape is still highly digital, and that is not going to change. With this in mind, individuals and businesses should take it upon themselves to work to prevent digital burnout in the workplace. Here are some strategies our team utilizes to avoid virtual fatigue: 

  • Step away from the screen. Take breaks away from your screens throughout the day when needed. Use this time to disconnect from screens and digital platforms. 
  • Reduce personal screen time. Turning your devices off an hour before you plan to go to sleep will allow for a more restful and relaxed sleep. If you are unable to distance yourself from screen time at work, reducing personal screen time in favour of reading a book, spending time outside, cooking or exercising can serve as an alternate option. 
  • Set boundaries. Developing a routine that includes screen time limits, taking breaks from your devices, saying no to extra work and turning off notifications during non-work hours will allow you to distance yourself from your job and reinforce a work/life balance. At Durrell Communications, our team enforces the No Fly Zone, a one hour block mid day, for the whole team to log off their devices. This is a guaranteed hour everyday where our team is encouraged to take a break, have some lunch and engage in something other than work.
  • Opt for offline. When possible, try to book in person meetings. Even reducing your online interactions by one meeting a week is sure to make a difference. Our team offers a hybrid work style for this reason! By recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for productivity, Durrell Communications offers a flexible hybrid workstyle. By maintaining both a physical office space for employees as well as the option to work from home, our team has the flexibility to choose what works best for them. This also helps facilitate in person meetings by having a convenient hub where they can take place.
  • Disconnect. During non-work hours, spend your time away from devices entirely. Connect with friends, family and colleagues in person.

Acknowledging the growing problem of digital burnout is as important for employers as it is for employees. As an employee, it is important to be aware of how the digital realm can affect you so that you are able to set boundaries. This will allow you to work to the best of your ability with a lesser chance of succumbing to digital burnout. 

For employers, organizations that work to address fatigue among workers will be more successful in increasing productivity, employee engagement and happiness. Durrell Communications can assist your business through the tailored development of an internal communications strategy, demonstrating your commitment to workplace health and wellness initiatives.

Interested in learning more? Contact Durrell Communications today!