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InfoQ Homepage News Remote Collaboration Fatigue is Real, Remote Workers are More Empathic, Remote Work is Here to Stay

Remote Collaboration Fatigue is Real, Remote Workers are More Empathic, Remote Work is Here to Stay

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As the shift from in-person to remote working persists, organisations have been doing research into the impact this is having on individuals and teams. Studies by Gartner and Microsoft indicate that remote collaboration fatigue is real, remote workers are more empathic and inclusive, and that remote work is here to stay.

Microsoft released the results of telemetry from the use of Office 365 which showed:

Across Microsoft 365, there was a 30% increase in scheduled meetings and a 1000% jump in video calls in the last few months. This abundance of meetings with 30% of them going over the scheduled time and a 52% jump in the number of instant messages between 6pm and midnight are also blurring the lines between work and personal spaces.

The Microsoft research shows that brainwaves reveal remote meeting fatigue is real:

A second study found that brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress are significantly higher in video meetings than non-meeting work like writing emails. Further, due to high levels of sustained concentration fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a meeting. Looking at days filled with video meetings, stress begins to set in at about two hours into the day. The research suggests several factors lead to this sense of meeting fatigue: having to focus continuously on the screen to extract relevant information and stay engaged; reduced non-verbal cues that help you read the room or know whose turn it is to talk; and screen sharing with very little view of the people you are interacting with.

The authors provide advice to help manage energy and concentration levels:

To help with this, we recommend taking regular breaks every two hours to let your brain re-charge, limiting meetings to 30 minutes, or punctuating long meetings with small breaks when possible.

The study also found that the remote working conditions many find themselves in has resulted in more empathy across teams, and team members feel more included and supported.

An HBR article explored the data in depth and pointed out the important role of managers in helping their teams to build resilience and balance. Frequent check-ins and modeling sustainable behaviours are important to prevent employee stress and burnout.

A Gartner survey indicates that even after offices reopen, working remotely will continue to be the norm. The results show that senior leadership at 82% of companies surveyed plan on allowing employees to work remotely some of the time and 47% planning to allow remote work all of the time.

Gartner survey results

The Gartner survey highlighted the importance of actively maintaining and nurturing the corporate culture and employee experience in the complex, hybrid environment that will come as organisations combine remote and in-person work.

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