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How to fight digital fatigue at work


Employee connections are essential to keeping an organisation functioning, but with the rise in digital tools and technology, digital fatigue can easily set in. In fact, according to research, digital fatigue can see decreased productivity and, ultimately, higher turnover rates.

Another study found that digital fatigue can lead to decreased physical activity as employees become overwhelmed by technology. Again, this is a concern because employee health and wellbeing are critical to productivity and organisational success.

So, what can organisations do to prevent digital fatigue?

Adopt transparent and scalable systems

Executives at enterprises may often find themselves dealing with an endless string of issues that aren’t easily traceable through their existing project management platforms. They need a way to gain visibility into the root of their problems, uncover areas of improvement and develop strategies to address them. This is where risk management platforms come in.

Risk management should provide executives with advanced analytics tools that enable them to anticipate and manage risks more efficiently, improving their decision-making process and increasing their chances for success. With this type of approach, executives can identify potential hazards in their projects and processes before they turn into significant issues. By being able to anticipate these risks, executives can develop strategies for reducing the impact of any disruption or delay that may occur.

Understand task characteristics

Leaders must understand the various characteristics of tasks to ensure they are appropriately assigned, completed on time and within the budget. Task characteristics include complexity, type of task, duration, required skills and resources, risk potential and any other factors that may affect its completion.

Therefore, organisations should adopt a “task-oriented view” rather than simply looking at the traditional sprint cycle when managing different tasks. Teams need the ability to quickly create and adjust ad-hoc projects, which can help them easily stay aligned with goals without needing to go through extensive processes each time. For example, the types of issues and timelines that arise in departments such as sales and marketing or customer relationship management tend to be more varied than those of IT or accounting. As a result, the “scrum” periods are less predictable from task to task.

By understanding the different task characteristics, leaders can better understand how to assign tasks and what resources are necessary for completion. Leaders should also ensure that they create a culture of accountability in which employees understand their responsibilities and feel empowered to take ownership of their tasks. This can help reduce digital fatigue and improve the overall efficiency of teams.

Finally, leaders should also consider how tasks can be broken down into smaller chunks to ensure that they are completed in a timely manner with minimal disruption to other team members or processes.

Digital workflow systems

Whichever of the cloud ecosystems a company might use, such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, it’s important to realise these platforms do not in themselves eliminate the information silos that come from fragmented workflows. In fact, despite their essential capabilities for providing ubiquitous connectivity, they don’t overcome the workflow friction caused by functional divisions, approval hierarchies, or multiple disjointed apps such as Asana, Slack, Zoho, for example.

Rather than simply relying on these cloud-based ecosystems, the most successful teams implement an integrated digital workflow system. This type of system simplifies and streamlines those workflows by leveraging data from existing systems and creating automated processes to eliminate manual, time-consuming tasks. It reduces complexity while enabling rapid deployment—allowing users to quickly and easily create new workflows and automate existing ones with minimal effort.

Integrated digital workflow systems promote collaboration by centralising data and information, eliminating the advent of shadow IT, which can cause significant problems for organisations. By consolidating all relevant data into a single source of truth, users are able to access the most up-to-date version of any document or file, enabling a much-needed single view of work progress.

Overall, integrated digital workflow systems provide the necessary infrastructure to unlock the full potential of cloud-based ecosystems by streamlining and improving workflows, enhancing collaboration among teams, and guaranteeing accurate data is delivered to the right people at the right time.

In the new world of remote work, companies won’t thrive by focusing on employee management or treating humans as “resources”, but by focusing on meaningful employee connections and treating them as whole people. By keeping a few critical components in mind, such as task characteristics, contextual understanding, and visibility of progress, organisations can ensure they have the right project management platform in place to maximise efficiency while creating an excellent space for collaboration. This will help them foster an environment conducive to employee engagement and productivity—allowing teams to be successful no matter where they are doing their work and to keep the dreaded digital fatigue at bay.

Professor Benjamin Laker

Professor of Leadership

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