Digital burnout in the workplace and how to avoid it
The way we work looks very different to the professional landscape of just a few short years ago. For many, remote working is now a part of normal life with 38% of working adults having worked at home at least one day per week in 2022. That is a significant proportion of the population enjoying the freedom and benefits that working from home brings.
There are also plenty of us who have been given work devices that we can use in the office or at home, meaning we are always connected and available to work. But, every rose has its thorn and for all the benefits of remote working and increased connectivity, there are drawbacks people must overcome.
Perhaps the biggest danger to our well-being is digital burnout, with people being available to work for longer and more often than if they are based at home. There are ways we can avoid overexposure to work and avoid digital burnout.
What is digital burnout?
Digital burnout occurs when we are exposed to our screens for too long. Being forced or feeling compelled to stare at your screen for hours at a time can lead to workplace stress. This can manifest itself in various forms such as tiredness or exhaustion, anxiety, a loss of interest in your job or depression and loss of sleep.
Whether you work into the late evenings while at home, skip lunch or open your laptop at the weekends to check in, we are being overwhelmed by work through our digital devices. This can lead to mistakes and lapses in concentration which can range from falling for the latest security vulnerabilities to being short-tempered with colleagues.
The dangers of always being switched on
Working flat out at any time can see us struggle to maintain momentum and eventually our productivity can wane. The same is true of always being switched on and we need breaks from our screens and devices and time to clear our thoughts of anything work-related, even if just for a moment. There are several symptoms of digital burnout to look out for if you think you are in danger of too much screen time.
- Feeling disconnected from your friends, family and coworkers.
- Increased feelings of anxiety, either socially or constantly worrying about work.
- Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping through the night.
- High and persistent levels of exhaustion.
- Reduced performance in the workplace or a lack of concentration.
- Heightened feelings of negativity towards work and trying to mentally distance yourself from it.
- A general lack of energy or motivation.
Of course, these symptoms are not exclusive to digital burnout but experiencing them could be an indication that there is an imbalance in your life. Asking yourself if you are working too much or spending too much time staring at your screen is the first step towards finding a solution to the problem.