Is there an antidote to ‘digital intensity’?


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Digital Intensity is the degree to which different industry sectors have adopted digital technologies. Its score depends upon the number of technologies are acquired by an enterprise.

It’s been a year and a half since the pandemic hit the world. We’ve been using more and more digital tools to work longer shifts. This creates a cognitive load that’s harsh for our brains. But how do we fix that?

Coronavirus pandemic has made us glued to our screens. And it’s not only just streaming movies and scrolling through social media.

With everything being remote – studies, work, business, we’re started relying entirely much on digital tools.

Our everyday life becoming all-virtual-all-the-time has led to a rapid increase in ‘digital intensity’. The reason behind its extensive use is not just working, but it’s like we’re also using it more to work more.

A new survey conducted by Microsoft tracked the habits of more than 30,000 users in 31 countries, last year. The results are shocking.

“People spend 148% more minutes in weekly Teams meetings,” says Jared Spataro, Microsoft corporate vice-president. “An average user is sending 42% more chats after hours, and 200% more chats on weekends. Our customers received 40 billion more emails in February of 2021 than in February of 2020.”

Spataro himself experienced it. He and his team are certainly spending more time in front of their screens. He noticed that the employees are attending more and more meetings. Some of which are not even necessary, but still they do it just to be engaged.

According to him, there is a basic principle responsible for this – “humans crave connection”.

And all this sitting in front of screens is putting a mental load on our brains. But there are a few short-term solutions that can help fix this problem.

‘Huge cognitive overhead’

It makes pretty sense that remote work would make us spend more time in front of screens. The meetings which were supposed to be held in person, are now held virtually.

And now the option that we have is virtual interaction.

Some reports show that the workday has lengthened by an hour in various countries. Also, the average time duration of a meeting is a full 10 minutes longer.

Due to this, we are pinging colleagues more with chats, sending more e-mails. Meetings have replaced the casual interactions that we used to have while passing our colleagues in the corridors.

Earlier, digital platforms were just used for an in-person team meeting. Now, these online tools are our constant companion.

According to a recent study, working on a screen puts a huge cognitive on our head. Hence, the more meetings there are, the worse it gets.

It was observed that our brain produces alpha and beta waves when it works hard. So, a lot of beta waves are produced over a day of meetings.

In other words, when you’re processing a lot of information at once or you’re staring at your screen these waves are produced. This makes it harder for us to work after a certain point in time.

View over businessman shoulder at laptop where four multiracial colleagues engaged at group meeting on-line, video conference call communicating by webcam, distant webinar, online negotiations concept

Short-term fixes

A short 10-minute break would be very helpful. It can help mitigate the effects of digital intensity.

You can do things like meditation, doodling, anything that could help your brain to relax. After this, you’ll be more engaged and focused.



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