Study Finds Screen Fatigue Is Taking a Toll on Work from Home Productivity

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Working from home indefinitely is a significant adjustment for many, especially for parents balancing distance learning and remote work. A new survey found that 75 percent of at-home U.S. workers are experiencing an increased sense of digital overload. Many are not reimbursed for remote work essentials which is an added burden for parents paying for home learning supplies. 

As many navigate a new work style that can feel “always on”, Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds surveyed 2,000 new at-home workers to learn more about the impact of their changing work environment on productivity and mental wellness.

The report contributes to research on the long-term impact of remote work and helps companies understand their workers’ evolving needs. It reveals a surprising trend: as workplaces move online, an overwhelming number are experiencing digital overload, turning to analog tools to mitigate the effects of screen fatigue.


Commenting on the study, productivity and digital detox expert Holland Haiis noted, “When working from home, we tend to use multiple devices simultaneously. This not only causes greater digital fatigue, it increases eye strain, and we tend to experience brain fog much earlier in the day. Turning to analog tools is a natural impulse: switching to paper and pen allows the brain to relax, and have the white space for problem-solving.”

Working from home exacerbates digital overload as messaging, emailing and video conferencing have become the primary means of communication.“Using paper during virtual calls allows your brain to focus on what’s most important. When it’s written on paper, you’re able to stay in the conversation, as opposed to using another device and falling down the technology rabbit hole,” said Holland.

Many are reaching for analog tools to refocus, turning to pencil and paper to give their eyes a break from the screen. Printing documents allows workers to rely less on their devices and gives their brains a much needed break from technology.

With the possibility that working from home may be here to stay, many people are investing money in their home offices. Not all employers are reimbursing their workers for office essentials. The top items that have not been reimbursed are pens, pencils, notebooks and sticky notes. 

On top of coping with digital fatigue and virtual communication overload, distractions are also coming from within the physical work-from-home environment. Over a third of respondents blamed their diminished productivity on distractions created by the people they live with.Many cited distractions such as deliveries or construction noise. Others lost productivity due to not having the correct tools. 

—Jennifer Swartvagher

Featured photo: Gabriel Benois on Unsplash


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