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Dealing with digital burnout

Now that many companies have settled into remote work as their new normal and we're all encouraged to hunker down and keep socially distant for the foreseeable future, we are naturally turning to all things online. Whether it's Zoom meetings with colleagues, video chats with family and friends, or ordering groceries online, it seems we are in front of our devices 24/7.

Are you burned out yet? If your answer is "yes," you're not alone.

In 2019, the Workplace Productivity Report showed 87% of workers are spending an average of seven hours every day staring at their screens. Of those, half reported they were experiencing fatigue or depression as a result. In 2020, Monster.com reported that burnout number had increased by quite a lot. Of employees working from home, almost 70% reported signs of burnout, up from 51% just two months earlier.

Burnout can occur in many aspects of our lives simply by the act of doing something too much or too long. Digital burnout, however, can go deeper than that. According to McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, the term digital burnout refers to "feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, depression, or diminished interest in a job stemming from too much time on digital devices. Physical signs include sleep disorders, decreased energy, and even chest pains."

The rise in digital burnout isn't good news for employers whose people are working remotely. How can you help employees deal with digital burnout and still get the job done? Here are a few suggestions.

Encourage people to get outside during the workday

One of the distinct perks of working at home is the ability to unplug and take a walk around the block during lunch or a break in the action. Encourage your employees to bundle up and get out into the elements, tearing their eyes away from their screens for even a short while. One way to do this is by starting an employee walking challenge. And no work phone calls, checking messages, or otherwise looking at smartphone screens while they're hoofing it around the block. A short break like this recharges people to tackle the rest of what their day holds.

People are not always available, even if they're always reachable

Yes, it's just a fact of life that people are glued to their devices every minute. But it doesn't have to be a fact of work. A drawback of working at home is, you're always at the office. Tell your employees it's OK (and even mandatory) to unplug after the workday. Make it clear that after-hours emails do not require a response until the start of the next day. Ditto for any non-crucial work projects. It's crucial to have time to spend in the real, non-virtual world.

Stress digital projects that really matter

Some digital activities or tasks can be a boon to your employees during this time. Upskilling and earning digital credentials via online courses is one of those things. Offering employees the opportunity to earn digital credentials during this uncertain time shows you are making an investment in their future, is a way to ensure people are engaged and learning, and is a powerful message to send to your employees that you care about their future and are planning for it at your company.

At Credly, we know something about that. We're dedicated to help companies upskill via digital credentials. Contact us today to learn more.