Remote workers’ feelings of isolation related to being away from the social environment of the office and digital technology contribute to them finding video conferences especially draining, according to recent research from NEOMA Business School.

‘Techno isolation’ is caused by digital tools making it harder to have spontaneous interactions with colleagues, share useful information, and find experts or pull groups together to resolve issues quickly, explains Dr. Agata Mirowska, Assistant Professor of Human Resources Management and Organisational Behaviour at NEOMA.

Based on in-depth interviews with employees and human resource directors at French companies, Mirowska co-authored a study which finds this seclusion leads workers to describe their roles as “difficult”, “frustrating”, “strange” and “boring.”

Interviewees also reported experiencing higher levels of fatigue, migraines and eyesight problems. They said they felt “cut off” from co-workers and admitted to being “less committed” to their work at times.

“Digital technology necessitates a very monotonous physical work environment. For instance, video conferencing consists of a screen, and when participants switch off their cameras, they’re no longer visible. It’s easy to get distracted, and staying tuned in requires a great deal of effort and concentration,” says Mirowska.

The researchers recommend managers and corporate leaders recognize techno-isolation as a new type of stress that presents a significant challenge and ensure their workers have adequate technical training and support, in addition to planning days where colleagues can gather on site and encouraging in-person interactions when possible.

This research was published in the journal Information Technology & People.

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