The lines between homes and workplaces have blurred throughout the remote working experiments brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many businesses have survived or even flourished under this work-from-home model, the desire to optimize remote work environments has caused employees to receive continuous, intrusive communications.
While this behavior was once a mere workplace aggravation, it has now followed workers home and amplified their feelings of exhaustion.
What Is Communication Fatigue?
Communication fatigue is a feeling resembling burnout that is brought on by having too many communications with one’s employer.
To be clear, this problem predates the pandemic and the associated remote workplace. The issue has, however, become both increasingly common and severe in remote work environments.
Why Employees Get Communication Fatigue
Communication fatigue has several components. The volume of messages is one problem, but the presentation, relevance, and timing of communications are also significant factors.
Receiving many messages is overwhelming because it can break into one’s workflow or disrupt a task. Furthermore, most workers that suffer from communication fatigue mention that a major problem is that most of the messages are not relevant to their work or position in the company.
Another factor in communication fatigue is that businesses demand time in many ways such as texting, emails, phone calls, video meetings, and more. To employees, it feels as though the demand on their time is a never-ending, poor attempt at replicating the workplace environment through digital means. The supposed benefits from such numerous communications pale next to the costs to worker efficiency.
Finally, many workplaces have proven disrespectful of the home-work balance now that people work from home. Bosses demand late-night strategy sessions or text people in the early hours before they’re clocked in for work.
All these factors combined have led to this pervasive feeling of communication fatigue.
How to Help Communication Fatigue
Fortunately, overcoming communication fatigue is typically as simple as being mindful of the workers’ time and deciding what messages must be sent. Here are several ways to reduce or prevent communication fatigue.
Consider Your Communication Channels
We have all heard the saying “this could have been an email.” Apply that line of thinking to your Zoom meetings. Make the type of communication suit the needs of the message. If you can, get to know your team a little more and use each person’s preferred communications method.
Think About Whether Communication Is Needed
Riffing on the “this could have been an email” concept, you should also consider whether you need to send the message at all. Evaluate your messages to see if they’re relevant, urgent, or add anything to the conversation before sending them. There is no point in sending a late-night “thank you” to someone if it will only disturb them.
Change Your Message Frequency
Do you have a Zoom call slated for every morning? Is that call followed by 6 clarification emails? That is too many communications to have before an employee has started working. Make sure there is true value in all your communications before sending them.
Make Sure the Message Is Relevant to All Receivers
A major issue in terms of communication fatigue is that many messages are not relevant to the recipients. Try not to CC the whole company on every single email.
Watch Out for Repeated Messages
Middle managers have a bad habit of passing on information to employees that came from their bosses. This is redundant messaging that clogs emails and pulls people away from their tasks.
These are just a few ways that you can combat communication fatigue in the workplace.
Workplace communications are often overlapping and redundant in the best of times. When those messages are going to people that are faced with added video meetings and constant emails, it causes burnout.
Remote workplaces could be here to stay, so now is the time for a business to alter its communication methods for the better.
If you or your business need help navigating modern workplace communication channels, visit our Modern Workplace page to learn more about how we can help you customize a solution that fits your business needs!