Digital Exhaustion

Work life in the COVID era is still evolving after a year in which the global pandemic has altered many aspects of work. We learned about the importance of essential workers while accelerating a move to remote work. We put to rest a belief that remote work is unproductive and fully embraced all things digital. Along the way, we learned about Zoom Fatigue – a feeling like exhaustion or burnout. Mental health specialist Krystal Jagoo says that a lot of it comes down to the increased cognitive demands of video conferencing communication. Said another way, we are experiencing digital exhaustion. In a recent Article by Chris Matyszczyk, he provides insight from Microsoft – a company that most expect was ready for the virtual word. But when they explored their virtual world, what they found was in their words horrific:

In July, Redmond analyzed what was going on inside its own (virtual) world and discovered some horrific facts. Sample: 52% of the company’s IMs were being sent between 6pm and midnight.

Chris Matyszczyk – Microsoft revealed the latest truths about working from home. One is truly disturbing

The article explores the disruption that comes with a move to hybrid work. In their research, Microsoft found that 37% of employees say companies are making them work too hard, and 41% admitted they wanted to find a new employer. While their research points to a need to address digital exhaustion, the article highlights a known truth: America has a work culture, it doesn’t have a life culture. A recent Microsoft Report reveals urgent trends leaders should consider as hybrid work unfolds. Hybrid work – a blended model where some employees return to the workplace and others continue to work from home – brings both benefits and challenges. Microsoft developed a 2021 Work Trend Index that outlines findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and an analysis of trillions of productivity and labor signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. The findings include the following trends:

  • Flexible work is here to stay
  • Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call
  • High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce
  • Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized
  • Shrinking networks are endangering innovation
  • Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing
  • Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world

The report dives into detail supporting each of the seven trends. Some highlights include the fact that extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace, but any gains in productivity have come at a human cost. Per the global survey, one in five respondents say their employer does not care about their work-life balance. Fifty-four percent feel overworked and thirty-nine percent feel exhausted. Regarding Gen Z – those between the ages of 18 and 25 – sixty percent say they are merely surviving or struggling right now. Another finding reflects the fact that our experiences working virtually have connected our work and home lives in ways that have made work more human. I personally have met many cats, dogs, and children over the last year. But on the downside, interaction with our distant networks has diminished.

Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft

While we have our challenges, there are several opportunities, the biggest of which is the widening of the talent marketplace. Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times during the pandemic, and people are taking notice. The report provides the following: Forty-six percent of remote workers are planning to move to a new location this year because they can now work remotely. While issues with talent shortages improve, there are implications to major Cities and the real estate market. There is great insight found in the full Microsoft report which you can download the Here. These issues are likely to impact leaders everywhere, and as the report mentioned, leaders need a wake-up call.

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