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, says new research by London South Bank University (LSBU).

The study, entitled, ‘An Investigation of Self-Control and Self-Regulation as Mechanisms Linkfir Remote Communication to Employee Well-Being during the Covid-19 Pandemic’, looks at the levels of energy depletion experienced by employees engaged in remote working and their increased need for daily recovery time, taking into account various digital media applications used to complete a range of work tasks.

The research, carried out by Karin Moser, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at LSBU’s Business School, is the first study of its kind in the UK to show how remote communications can harm employee wellbeing at work, if left unregulated.

The researchers conducted a daily diary study surveying a cohort of 102 UK employees working remotely across a ten day period during full national lockdown.

The survey results report an 80 per cent (80 out of 102) employee response rate with a 67 per cent 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 (texting, emails), video conferences (Slack, Skype, Zoom, MSTeams), voice-based media (phone calls), social media (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat), collaborative platforms (Slack, Workzone, Blackboard, Glip).

The research showed 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

Communication via video calls is more tiring to deal with than other forms of digital communication, such as emails, texts, or chats, as video calls require higher levels of self-control and regulation of emotion

Daily fluctuations in different forms of remote communication between employees is detrimental to the overall well-being of the workforce.

Professor Karin Moser, said:

“Whereas previous research looking at remote working practices in the UK focused on employee productivity, this study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that these practices pose a threat to employee well-being.

“The pandemic has thrown much of the workforce into one huge online experiment, forcing the majority of employees to work from home suddenly. This has left staff with no previous experience of remote working, with little time to prepare and adjust.
“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.”


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