Working remotely during the UK’s first Covid19 lockdown led to an increase in employees suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’ while generating a need for longer recovery time, according to new research from London South Bank University (LSBU).
The study, entitled, ‘An Investigation of Self-Control and Self-Regulation as Mechanisms Link Remote Communication to Employee Wellbeing During the Covid-19 Pandemic’, was led by Karin Moser, Professor of organisational behaviour at LSBU’s Business School, and shows how remote communications can harm employee wellbeing if left unregulated.
Researchers conducted a daily diary study surveying 102 UK employees working remotely across a ten-day period during full national lockdown. The survey results report an 80% employee response rate with a 67% daily response rate. Levels of exposure to remote communication were assessed by asking participants how many minutes they had spent each day using: text-based media, video conferences, voice-based media, social media, and collaborative platforms.
The research shows that remote working generally leads to increased tiredness or ‘zoom fatigue’ for employees and a greater need for longer recovery time compared to on-site office work. It also flagged-up that communication via video calls is more tiring to deal with than other forms of digital communication, because they require higher levels of self-control and regulation of emotion.
Based on the findings, Moser’s study recommends that employers should: be aware of employees’ need for adequate time to recover from the demands of remote working; give their staff additional breaks and stipulate no working beyond core hours; encourage employees to shut down digital devices outside core working hours; support and encourage healthy recovery time following remote working; provide support to employees who already have extra demands on their time and resources, due to family responsibilities, pre-existing health issues etc.
Moser, said: “Whereas previous research looking at remote working practices in the UK focused on employee productivity, this study demonstrate that these practices pose a threat to employee wellbeing.
“The danger is that many work routines are now dictated by what technology packages are available, giving the user little time for reflection on whether what’s been provided is adequate. Meanwhile employees are also lacking the necessary skills training to help them collaborate and lead virtually. This business practice is not sustainable, and in the long-term, will have detrimental impacts on employee health and productivity.”