A quick guide to avoiding tech fatigue
Digital technology is a great enabler and allowed us to continue working and communicating through the pandemic. But sometimes it can be too much and we begin to suffer from tech fatigue.
What is tech fatigue?
We’re constantly interacting with technology whether it’s at work, at home, or when we’re out socializing. And there’s always a new device or new app to acquire. Hands up who’d heard of Zoom before the pandemic struck?
That proliferation of digital hardware and software creates expectations and affects behaviors. Access to instant messaging puts pressure on people to respond instantaneously. Round-the-clock access to information makes us feel guilty about not making ourselves constantly available. These pressures are compounded by expectations from employers that more technology means an increased capacity for work.
All this adds up to technological or digital fatigue. It’s a real thing with real consequences for our well-being. Fatigue can manifest itself physically in cases of eyestrain, neck and back problems, headaches, sleep deprivation, and so on. It affects our mental health too with increased feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, alienation, and general burnout.
Given that our dependence on technology is only going to grow and remote or home working is most likely here to stay, what can employees and employers do to avoid tech fatigue?
10 tips for avoiding tech fatigue
- Practice less is more: Simplify and pare down the technology you use. Reduce the range and number of channels and apps you need. This downsizing improves communication by reducing the need to access multiple information sources for messages and requests.
- Use appropriate tech: Do you always need a Zoom call to connect with others? Consider what’s the most efficient medium to complete a task. Maybe an email will suffice? Or a simple text or post? Resist the urge to use the newest, most refined tech just because you can.
- Is it really urgent?: Practice good tech etiquette. Ask yourself whether you need to contact someone and, if you do, when’s the best time to do it. Remember that each contact you initiate requires a response from someone. Interruptions (pings, notifications, alerts, etc.) might distract them from other more critical work and increase their stress levels.
- Agree expectations: When managing remote workers, you need to be transparent about what you expect from them and when. You’ll need their buy-in so listen to and act on their concerns. Concentrate on outcomes rather than hours worked. Don’t assume that working remotely necessarily implies greater availability and pile on the work.
- Set hours: Just because technology is always on, doesn’t mean employees should be. Agree on some core hours when they should be available, but also timetable breaks. Allow flexibility in their schedule so they can organize working times to suit them. This makes for a better work-life balance and helps maintain well-being.
- Reduce on-screen time: Reliance on video calls for meetings can have negative effects. People are sensitive to being observed. They may feel the primary purpose of some video calls is simply to check up on them rather than check in with them. Zoom calls require a degree of performance that can take its toll. Try switching to audio-only calls.
- Take regular breaks: When you’re working alone there’s no one to invite you to leave your desk. So, it’s essential to build in breaks. Set alerts on your phone to do non-work activities such as making coffee, going outside, practicing mindfulness, or doing some household chores. It’s important to a break from technology.
- Maintain wellness: No amount of technology can make you more productive and efficient if you’re not well enough to work. Engage every day in some exercise to keep you physically and mentally fit. This will help you maintain a healthy relationship with technology. It will build the resilience you need to prioritize what’s critical and deal with the barrage of pings and notifications in your own time.
- Use tech imaginatively: You can use technology to perform non-work, social activities. This could be a virtual quiz night or coffee morning. You could create a dedicated social media space where colleagues can post personal messages, relay news, and share experiences, recommendations, and information. This helps loosen the association between tech and work.
- Reach out: Ironically the tech that helps cause fatigue can help reduce it. Digital connectivity can be used to reach out when you have a problem and make sure no one’s excluded. Being connected means feeling you belong and digital technology provides the means to seek help quickly when it’s needed.
Organizations have a duty of care to use technology responsibly and ensure it doesn’t harm employees’ well-being. Understanding and addressing tech fatigue helps create a sustainable healthy working environment that benefits all.
Get in touch now to find out how Learning Pool can help your organization ensure they are taking care of their employees’ well-being.
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