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Remote working fatigue and how to reduce and manage it

After over a year of lockdowns and working from home the shine of remote working has dulled, with many employees feeling increasingly exhausted. We’ve compiled a few tips on how employers and employees can reduce remote working fatigue.
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Microsoft Power Apps are helping businesses break down remote collaboration barriers

The key to weathering the storm of the pandemic is to continue to improve business collaboration.Here’s how the latest Microsoft Power Apps can help keep companies and employees connected and on track.
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Remote working fatigue and how to reduce and manage it

Before March 2020, many of us viewed working from home as something reserved for cutting-edge tech companies, or a ‘treat’ bestowed upon us all too infrequently. We imagined a life free from the daily commute, office politics and eating lunch at our desks, and it sounded perfect. Then COVID-19 arrived and, virtually overnight, our dreams came true.

A year later, the shine of remote working has dulled for many people. What gave us a surge of energy during the first lockdown became more of a strain during the subsequent two. Baking bread in April 2020 has been replaced with a sense of anxiety in 2021. 

So, what happened to our expected pleasure of remote working, and why has it left so many of us feeling drained? 

The truth is, when dreaming of remote working, none of us imagined doing it during a global pandemic. The term ‘remote working fatigue’ has become a buzz phrase over recent months and, despite not being an actual clinical diagnosis, it’s something that many of us are experiencing first-hand.

Working remotely, during a global health crisis, is tough. Routines have been overturned, relationships have been tested, families have been separated, children have been home-schooled, switching off from work has become harder, sleep patterns have altered, life as we knew it has been impacted and changed on every possible level. Added to this, we have all endured a year-long cycle of uncertainty. Remote working, when everything else is uncertain and difficult, has compounded our loss of structure and added a new layer of intensity for many employees.

Essentially another name for burnout, business leaders would be wise to consider the impact remote working fatigue is having on some of their workforce. Employees may be feeling exhausted, lacking focus or experiencing a lower level of motivation than before. Coupled with this, a potential return to the office – even if a hybrid pattern is to be the new norm – could also be adding stress and anxiety. 

5 tips for reducing remote working fatigue

We’ve compiled a few tips on how both IT teams and employees can reduce remote working fatigue:

1: Reduce the amount of video meetings and make some of them audio only. The pressure of being constantly ‘viewed’ can be daunting for many people. If a video catch-up can be replaced by chat or email, then do it. It could also be useful to switch off the webcam and hold a few meetings as audio only, allowing participants to move around and feel less pressured. If the video meeting is absolutely necessary, then shorten it to less than an hour to give attendees the chance of have a quick break before the next one. 

2: Less screen time should be a target for everyone, not just children. Sitting in front of your computer all day is not good for anyone. Without the daily commute or the interruptions of co-workers, many remote workers remain fixed in front of their screens. A five-minute screenbreak every hour should be the aim, and used to stretch, walk and get a drink. It’s important for eyes, posture and overall physical and mental wellbeing.

3: Get outside. Remote working should not mean consuming lunch at your desk, anymore than office working should. Use the lunch hour to take a break, and ideally to step outside for some fresh air. A change of pace and perspective is vital for good mental health.

4: Work from home has evolved to work from anywhere. If it’s not a video meeting, you’re not an active participant on a call, and the sun is shining, take your phone outside and work there for ten minutes. Vitamin D is nature’s boost for the immune system.

5: Know when to switch off. Remote working fatigue is real and, if left unchecked, could lead to complete burnout. The ease of worker longer days at home, filling the previously wasted hours of commuting with meetings and report-writing, should be avoided. Taking time away from work, staying active, and connecting with family and friends is crucial for a healthy work/life balance.

Monitoring remote working fatigue

Many of the tools that employees use to work remotely can provide data that helps HR and wellbeing teams identify when someone is at risk of fatigue. By creating dashboards in tools like Microsoft Power BI, you provide your organisation with the insights needed to manage employee wellbeing remotely.

Data can help you understand how employees are spending their time during working hours, and when someone might need support. Microsoft has also made available a Power App, the Employee Well-being Power App, which simply prompts employees to let their organisation know how they’re feeling. This is free to install and can help you spot problems and address them quickly.

Remote working is here to stay, but the fatigue that can accompany it needn’t be. If you’d like further advice on how technology can be deployed to ease remote working fatigue for your workforce, please get in touch.

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Microsoft Power Apps are helping businesses break down remote collaboration barriers

While Microsoft 365 is more or less a ‘household’ name, fewer people have heard of Microsoft Power Apps. The lesser-known Microsoft solution can be used in conjunction with Microsoft’s more popular business solutions to provide some serious benefits to businesses working remotely and in offices.

Microsoft Power Apps is part of a larger suite of apps, services, analytics platforms, and automation processes known as the Microsoft Power Platform. By combining Microsoft Power Apps with the other services in the suite, companies can build custom, no-code apps that can improve their operations and processes in bespoke and targeted ways.

Through integration with Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Azure, Power Apps are helping businesses weather the pandemic by breaking down remote collaboration barriers. This is especially true for those making use of Microsoft’s two latest Power App offerings: Bulletins and Milestones.

Power Apps: Bulletins

Building off the crisis communication template Microsoft released at the start of the pandemic, Bulletin apps provide a simple, no-code way to keep team members across your business informed. Operational within Microsoft Teams, they provide a centralised place for company news and departmental information, with the ability to categorise articles and include video, images, and buttons.

At the pandemic front line, Bulletins could offer vital improvements to operations. Mobile optimisation can help key workers keep on top of the latest outages, weather alerts, and more to keep them effective and unharmed. Broadband technicians, for example, can receive wind warnings to assess whether it’s safe to repair overhead cable, or an alert if there’s another service problem nearby.

Bulletin apps work out-of-the-box, but enterprises also have access to the full source code of any they deploy. You can easily tap into the Power Apps personal app in Microsoft Teams to add branding assets, custom features, or integrate with other pipelines.

Power Apps: Milestones

Milestones, meanwhile, are a more direct answer to the collaboration and productivity challenges businesses face when working remotely. A milestone app provides a custom, centralised board to track the status of key tasks and initiatives.

Employees can access a Milestones dashboard straight from a pin in their Teams channel or via their Teams sidebar. They can quickly check the completion percentage of a large project or scan individual tasks for their stage, priority, approval status, owner and more. This functionality is particularly useful when a milestone requires input from several teams to move forward. The holistic project overview and individual activity logs keep everyone informed of the latest developments without them needing to leave the Teams app.

The key part of Milestones compared to other task management software, however, is its flexibility and extensibility. With minimal code, an organisation can customise the experience to include custom labels, fields, business process flows, notifications, and much more. This creates an environment where employees can display the information they need in seconds. Further integrations with other analytics and pipelines can further enable notifications or automate follow-up tasks.

This easy extensibility has the potential to drastically reduce costs and increase innovation in comparison to other apps and software’s. With many businesses operating limited budgets and coding ability, being able to leverage bespoke apps that slot into their existing workflows and pull in data automatically is a huge draw.

With the shifting landscape of the pandemic, the simple and flexible nature of Power Apps allows businesses to stay agile by creating solutions with limited resources in weeks rather than months, or even years.

If you’d like to learn more about Power Apps and how they could help your business, contact us today for a free consultation.

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