Digital fatigue is not a particularly common term, yet can be a significant cause of burnout, especially during the last year. When seeking out opinions on remote working, working from home, or at least working more flexibly, after the pandemic restrictions lift, you do not have to look very far. There’s a wealth of articles available online on this topic as well as LinkedIn network polls and an abundance of opinion pieces.

In overly broad terms, from absorbing some of this information, it seems the majority of employees would prefer more flexibility and the opportunity to work remotely, many companies are also jumping on board with this approach. There are clear benefits to be had, from work life balance for employees to cost savings for employers.

Although fully adopting this method of work should come with some caution. Employees and employers should be mindful, if moving to a more flexible and remote operating model, of digital fatigue. Online meetings are no doubt very convenient, save travel time and can be arranged or changed at short notice with little impact. However, it is important to consider the adverse effects that may be experienced from digital-only interactions.  

Fatigue is often associated with being physically non-stop in a busy daily routine, but even going from one room in your house to work in another can be a cause of fatigue. Lack of change in surroundings, limited real life interactions and too much screen time can contribute to the feeling of burnout. In-person meetings often lead to increased energy, collaboration, interaction, and ideas.

How do you prevent digital fatigue?

One company making a stand on this is the law firm Dentons, who are introducing a “no internal meetings” policy one day a week until their new working model is in place, which is being designed to be intentionally more agile.

The policy also says meetings, where possible, should be scheduled for 50 and 20 minutes, rather than 60 and 30 minutes to stop digital meetings causing fatigue and over-running. This will also provide a little more flexibility between back-to-back meetings.

The new policy aim is to give employees the freedom to choose which working methods are right for them and to adapt the culture at the firm. The primary focus of opting to go to the office should be to meet clients, foster relationships with colleagues, promote innovation and drive self-development.

Perhaps other companies can learn from Dentons and their future approach to work based on learnings from the pandemic.

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