The recent epidemic has made digital overload and burnout a significant workplace issue that has only worsened recently.
A study shows that 87% of employees spend an average of 7 hours daily on their screens. Many workers suffer from depression or fatigue resulting from digital overload.
Businesses may end up dealing with a decrease in productivity, performance, and greater employee turnover if they don’t address this issue.
So, what can we do to fix this problem? In this post, we will discuss the various solutions available to you. But let’s start by understanding what digital overload is.
What is digital overload?
Digital overload occurs when employees face a huge information flow from digital devices such as tablets, laptops, computers, and smartphones, exceeding one’s capacity to consume data. Often, the overload consists of an overwhelming number of emails, texts, or other correspondence the employees receive during their workday.
Depression, anxiety, burnout, and other mental health issues are typical results of digital overload. Moreover, psychologists report that it can cause problems similar to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Some of the signs and symptoms of burnout because of digital overload may include:
- Less vigor, output, and drive
- Restlessness or difficulty falling asleep
- Social anxiety
- Stress and worry about work never go away
- Depression brought on by a lack of connection to loved ones and coworkers
- Extreme exhaustion
- Emotional and cognitive distancing from work and developing a pessimistic outlook on daily chores
- Loss of effectiveness and declining performance
Consequences of digital overload on employee health and company performance
The feelings of disengagement and lack of motivation that come with burnout can seriously damage one’s self-esteem, undermining the will to take risks necessary to advance one’s profession—simple things like updating your skillset and expanding your professional network.
As a result, it decreases the employee’s capacity to concentrate and act creatively and eventually reduces productivity.
Your work quality and attitude toward your job will suffer due to digital burnout. Still, professionals may end up putting in extra hours because they desire to advance their careers. If you aren’t putting in more effort, the only option is to implement longer working hours. And working additional hours only makes the burnout worse.
Information overload makes it difficult to create novel ideas. Research says that a disjointed workday due to many interruptions has been found to reduce our creative output. If employees face this issue, the organization can face less profitability, mass resignation, low morale, etc.
How can businesses counter digital overload?
Businesses should identify if their employees are going through digital burnout and take immediate actions to eliminate it.
1. Use a single platform for all digital tools
To decrease digital overload, you may want to provide your employees with digital workspaces that offer all the tools they need in one location. This should save time since they won’t have to switch between multiple platforms or applications. This also helps reduce the mental effort required to manage your digital workflow.
For example, you can allow your employees to store documentation, chat, post messages, have meetings and collaborate live with a collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams. It eliminates the need to send internal emails and use other tools.
You can use nBold’s customized Collaboration Templates for your Microsoft Teams to design workspaces for your teams where you can easily link various apps, tools, and data into a unified system. Based on the templates you can create pre-built workspaces in Microsoft Teams and allow your team to find everything they need to collaborate efficiently.
It can serve as a control panel for your already-established collection of apps, tools and data and make everything more accessible to your team.
2. Solicit employee feedback
Employee feedback is crucial for a healthy culture and for eliminating digital overload. Do you still keep this in mind when implementing that brand-new communication method? At the time, it appeared to be an excellent plan, but now that you think about it, it could have just added stress to an already hectic day.
Ask workers what kinds of digital tools (apps, social media sites, webpages, etc.) they find distracting at work. It would be best to track how much time they lose to these technologies and how much money they lose because of them.
After compiling this information, you can decide which programs should be removed from workplace computers and which require more stringent regulations placed upon their use.
3. Promote limited communication
Establish norms for how often and when employees should contact one another. They may, for instance, stop checking email on the weekends and evenings. Alternatively, they may reserve email for formal communications and utilize Microsoft Teams or Slack for internal exchanges.
Research indicates that using electronic means of communication outside of business hours might lead to tension between one’s professional and personal lives.
Even though many businesses have policies limiting employee interactions outside of regular business hours, these measures are rarely enforced.
Managers who want updates even when they’re not in the office and workers who need to address issues that emerge outside of regular business hours can pressure workers to be reachable at all times. It’s crucial to stress the need to unplug from technology. You can do so by turning off notifications outside your working hours and setting quiet days for weekends.
Long meeting sessions with no set end time can be draining and dull. Setting a time limit is a simple way to guarantee productive meetings. Furthermore, employees’ screen time rises because of back-to-back meetings.
Moreover, removing 60% of meetings can increase cooperation by 55%. Don’t force discussions on workers. Instead, give them the flexibility to choose themselves.
Set a firm time limit for meetings and allow for brief pauses to allow attendees to get some fresh air and stretch their legs. It’s not good for your eyes or back to stare at a screen for hours. To some extent, your employees should be allowed to disconnect from work.
Meeting presenters should be given a time limit to minimize employees’ screen usage. Designate a timekeeper and agenda enforcer for the meeting. By doing so, you can cut down on unnecessary meetings and avoid long tangents.
Choose specific days for meetings and communicate this information to your staff in advance to reduce stress. Perhaps meetings should be limited to Mondays. Everyone can save their desk space and preparation time by simply having to meet once a week.
As a bonus, this allows the team to avoid distractions for the rest of the week. Having the agenda in advance also encourages attendees to participate actively in the meetings. However, having meetings all over the place during the workday disrupts the flow of work and leads to digital burnout.
5. Automate tasks
Doing more tasks manually on a computer or mobile phone means you need to sit in front of the screen for those tasks too. However, many business processes today can be completed without human assistance or interference.
For instance, when employees are ready to send a task, they inform the person next in line about it. This process can be cut short with the help of a project management tool. You can also use apps such as Power Automate to help build workflows sending automatic notifications to the right people.
Others in line will not have to rely on someone to tell them to work on it. As soon as they upload the file, all the other relevant users will receive the notification and get to work. This reduces the screen time of your employees.
Some frequent collaboration processes can also be automated, for example onboarding.
Using a collaborative tool such as Microsoft Teams, you can create collaborative spaces for each new hire where you can add all the information they need, including training resources, guidelines and tasks. And to save you the hassle of building them from scratch each time a new person joins you company, you can use Collaboration Templates by nBold.
Hence, you can avoid digital overload by using tools and automating them.
6. Encourage face-to-face communication
The loneliness that comes from working in seclusion, from home or a remote location, might contribute to feelings of digital burnout. Finding opportunities to contact others, even if they aren’t your coworkers, can help alleviate the signs of digital burnout, which a lack of face-to-face interaction can exacerbate.
If you cannot make it into the office regularly, find other ways to engage with others. For instance, you can meet and interact with them on team building events or visit the team occasionally for meetings. You may even find some off-premises opportunities such as annual events or office dinners to bond with your teammates.
Keep the lines of communication open at work. A successful business ensures that all employees are happy and motivated to work together to achieve their objectives. When team members feel at ease with one another, they are more likely to talk openly about their concerns and ideas for solving difficulties. Then, there is a communication gap contributing to the issue.
7. Take breaks from screen time
Workers who take regular breaks are more likely to stay focused and experience less burnout.
Long hours in front of a screen can negatively affect workers’ health, including fatigue and sickness. To avoid health problems and maintain productivity in the workplace, people must limit their time spent in front of screens.
It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that workers understand how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when at work. There are so many challenges in decreasing screen usage in today’s workplaces that it’s practically impossible.
One method to help your personnel unwind and recharge is to encourage them to take a break from their electronic gadgets for a while. Encourage employees to talk in person when they’re at the office instead of communicating through a device.
You can also create tech-free zones in your workplace, so your employees limit their technology use.
Eliminate digital overload for good
As more and more businesses adopt hybrid working patterns, digital well-being has become an increasingly important issue for managers to consider.
Introducing new rules makes it more critical than ever for businesses to safeguard their employees from becoming addicted to their devices.
Work exhaustion among digital workers is caused by several reasons which include digital overload, most of which are solvable with minor adjustments, such as those discussed here. It’s also possible to change how management communicates with workers regularly and reward them for their efforts.
Give these suggestions a try for a month and let us know how helpful they were for you.