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3rd Apr, 2024

Christy Houghton
Christy Houghton
Job Title
Social Media Content Executive

Digital technology has revolutionised the way we work, communicate, and live. 

While advancements in digital tools have undoubtedly enhanced productivity and efficiency, the constant presence of the ‘black mirror’ has caused many to become burnt out.  

Managers have a responsibility to support their employees’ wellbeing, which can have a twofold impact: affecting performance as well as how people feel about their work. If left unchecked, the pressure of overwork can lead to long-term sickness or cause people to look for a new job.  

Understanding digital burnout

Digital burnout refers to the mental and emotional exhaustion occurring from prolonged exposure to digital devices and online activities. It manifests as feelings of fatigue, anxiety, apathy, and disengagement, ultimately impairing cognitive function and diminishing overall wellbeing. Burnout in general is an extreme form of stress – stress is when your battery is running low; burnout is when it’s gone completely flat. 

As employees are flooded with incessant notifications, overwhelming workloads, and blurred boundaries between their professional and personal lives, employers must implement strategies to support their workforce. 

Zoom fatigue

Remote workers are at even greater risk of digital burnout, with no opportunity to unplug for coffee breaks with colleagues or in-person meetings that hybrid or office-based workers have.  

Research published in 2023’s Nature journal, suggests that face-to-face communication is more beneficial than video conferencing because it provides more nuanced personal and social information (body language, voice pitch, gaze, head position etc.) promoting trust between participants.  

The authors of the report speculated that video calls can cause mental tiredness and anxiety, due to “a focus on appearance, prolonged eye contact, larger faces due to screen size, and the perceived dominance of a communication partner due to low camera position; and a cognitive burden due to a slight technological asynchrony of video calls”.  

Traditional phone calling can eliminate a lot of these elements, reducing eye strain and anxiety and increasing the focus on the content of the conversation, but face-to-face communication is still the healthiest option. 

Supporting employees experiencing digital burnout

Despite more than 78% of employers adopting hybrid working, for desk-based roles post pandemic, a recent KPMG CEO Outlook survey found 63% of UK leaders predicted a full return to full-time office working by 2026. Already, many employers, such as Boots, have mandated a full return to the office. But is that the answer? Remote working offers too many benefits to rule it out completely.  

Employers play a pivotal role in mitigating digital burnout and fostering employee wellbeing while employees work from home. Here are some practical strategies to support your workforce, whether they work remotely, hybridly, or five days a week in an office:  

Promote work-life balance 

Encourage employees to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Implement policies such as designated 'unplugged' hours or days, where employees are discouraged from checking work-related communications outside of allotted times. 

Demonstrate healthy digital habits and boundaries as leaders within the organisation. Encourage managers and executives to model balanced work practices, such as setting clear communication expectations and respecting employees' time off.  

Digital detox initiatives 

Organise digital detox challenges or workshops aimed at promoting mindfulness, stress reduction, and digital wellbeing. Encourage employees to disconnect from digital devices periodically and engage in offline activities to recharge and rejuvenate.  

The 20-20-20 rule is widely advised to prevent eye strain – looking away from a screen for 20 seconds, 20 feet away, every 20 minutes. Although, some suggest those who work an eight-hour shift should get up from their desks for 5-10 minutes per hour.  

Communication and education 

Provide training and education on digital literacy, time management, and stress management techniques. Equip employees with strategies to effectively manage digital distractions, prioritise tasks, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. At Reed, we host internal and external webinars and training courses as well as providing dedicated courses for our staff. 

Create a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges and seeking support. Check in regularly with team members, offering a listening ear and empathy. Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours empowers employees to manage their schedules, fosters autonomy and reduces the pressure to be constantly connected. 


Digital burnout poses a significant challenge for today’s workforce, but with proactive support and intervention, employers can mitigate its impact and create a culture that prioritises employee wellbeing, therefore safeguarding organisational success.    

If a new employer is the answer to digital burnout, or you’re just looking for someone new to join your team, contact your nearest Reed office.