Recognising the fatigue caused by remote working

Marco Pezzani, is a keen evangelist for employee welfare. As the Ricoh Board Director responsible for Customer Service he is also championing the importance of employee Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Marco has led Ricoh’s adoption to the ‘Time To Change employer pledge during the past year and works with the teams to promote initiatives across the business. Giving support to open and honest conversations about employees wellbeing as well as access to resources and advice to support them.

This is a great time to remind ourselves of the unique pressures many of us are facing whilst we work remotely and the key role business leaders and senior managers can play in supporting their colleagues.

Employee FatigueConstant video conferences. Intermissions of complete isolation. Difficulties in getting the support we need to do our jobs. These problems are challenging our productivity – and our mental health.

Meetings have always been a key aspect of our working lives – but now they’re our taxing time and energy more than ever.

We can no longer just pop over to IT to fix a problem. Or quickly ask a colleague for some clarification on a project. And we must also always be on the alert, just in case someone needs us.

But we’re not alone. In this article, we discuss the fatigue caused by remote working – and how business leaders can support their workers against exhaustion.

Why are video calls so fatiguing?

Well first off, they’re all basically the same. Imagine going to the same venue for every single event in your life. That’s our working life right now. It’s a bit repetitive – even if you dress it up as a virtual pub lunch.

They also fail to replicate what we’re accustomed to in real conversation. We have to concentrate extra hard to pick up on things like expression or tone. And silence is natural when we talk face to face, but it causes anxiety when we’re remote. And if the tech isn’t working as it should do, then it’s doubly stressful.

But mostly, meetings cause fatigue because they often require your full, sustained attention. Whether you’re speaking to clients or colleagues, most of us will find that we need to be fully alert and attentive. Ensuring we bring value to the meeting. And with more meetings than ever, that takes a lot of mental energy. Not surprising then that we’re feeling tired and fatigued.

How is remote working affecting our mental health?

Many of the challenges facing society as a whole are exacerbated by remote working. And it’s different for everyone because everyone’s home life is different. But there are some common factors affecting our mental health.

Changing attitudes to work

In 2019, a survey conducted by DigitalOcean concluded that 82% of US tech professionals who work remotely reported feeling fatigued. 52% claimed they worked longer hours. And 40% felt they had to contribute more than those who worked in the office.

Added stress

Remote working is piling on the pressure for individuals across the UK. Not only are we having to find the right balance between working from home and our other responsibilities, but we’re constantly hearing about job insecurity and economic downturn in the media.

And uncertainty around money has a very negative impact on mental health.

Adapting to new routines

Many of us have been going through the motions for a while. Our bodies and minds have acclimatised to a certain way of living. We’ve nailed down a routine that works for us and our jobs.

But those routines have been shattered. Our eating habits and sleeping patterns have suddenly changed. And trying to adjust to those changes on top of everything else can impact on our mental health.

How can business leaders support their employees against exhaustion?

Managing your employees while remote working is a major challenge. But it can be just as easy to do too much as do too little. Here are some quick tips for supporting colleague fatigue, relieving stress and anxiety, and enabling them to work effectively.

Don’t bombard people with communications

Keep your messaging quick, calm and concise. No information overloads. And keep the number of internal meetings to a minimum as most remote workers already have numerous customer meetings already scheduled in their diaries.

Trust your employees

Trust people to do their job. Don’t micromanage. Lack of trust can lead to bouts of anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Mix up your messaging

Don’t use the same methods of communication every time. Pick up the phone, use project collaboration tools, and keep emails succinct.

Think about individuals

Rules on career progression, personal welfare and your team members’ experience or ability still apply. New staff need extra support. Learning and development is still crucial. And your people still need to feel like they’re moving forward – not that they’re on pause.

Review your collaboration technology and tools

Trying to use collaboration tools which are tricky to use or perhaps just don’t work as well as they could, is a significant frustration for remote workers. Ensuring the technology you have is right is key. So ask them if they find them easy to use. If you find they are struggling, involve them early in the process of assessing the issues and finding new tech. Making sure the new solutions are truly fit for purpose and adaptable to meet changing requirements.

Adopt a people-first approach

At the end of the day, your most important asset is your people. All of your key business decisions have to be made with them at the forefront of your mind.

Help your employees thrive by encouraging a sense of community and pull everyone together with a clear and transparent goal.

Ricoh’s Work Together, Anywhere campaign

“We help organisations of all sizes to deliver business-as-usual by enabling intelligent remote working – even at times of disruption. Our end-to-end remote solutions are user-friendly, secure and scale to meet your needs.”

Whether you’re a small business or a large-scale enterprise, Ricoh has efficient solutions to introduce effective remote working practices.

Not only will they ease the transition and alleviate stress for your people, but they’ll also enhance productivity and performance.

Visit our dedicated page and learn how Ricoh can quickly and securely empower your people, automate mission-critical business processes and aid digital transformation efforts.

Learn more about Work Together, Anywhere

Click to read Work Together, Anywhere

And if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn.

Marco Pezzani

Ricoh UK National Customer Service Director