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When we thought that there was nothing more draining than sitting in a work meeting for hours on end, the pandemic brought around something even more draining — sitting in a Zoom meeting for hours on end. Educational Institutions have received plenty of attention for their hours of virtual classes making kids feel bored and burned out. Microsoft has reported that among their own employees, this same phenomenon is occurring. The switch to an online working environment, while safer, is resulting in thousands of workers feeling like they cannot separate their work from their personal lives, and the dreaded black Zoom boxes are deterring employees from sharing ideas with their peers. However, to place all of the blame for this on employees would be quite wrong. If workplaces want to improve morale among their employees and promote ideas even from a distance, then they need to provide employees support and opportunities to break out of their Zoom cubicles.

Conditions for workers have not been stellar for many since the pandemic hit. While essential workers come in potentially risky contact with others every day, at-home workers are suffering from lack of social contact. It is safer to work from home and many employees have stated that they enjoy the flexibility that working from home has provided them, and many want to continue to work from home when the pandemic ends. Despite these benefits, however, it cannot be ignored that many companies have simply decided to run things as though they haven’t changed. Meetings that could have been emails are no longer in conference rooms with free donuts.Younger workers are having trouble feeling unmotivated, and parents are feeling distracted from their work because of their family duties. For all the good that working from home can offer, the blurring of work and home lives and a lack of support for employees has led to the lack of innovation. 

But things don’t have to be this way. If the corporate workplace wants to revitalize its workers, it should modernize itself. The fact of the matter is, after almost two years of working online, old ways of working are no longer compatible with the heavily-online workforce. Employers should take the time to encourage employees to get vaccinated and slowly bring people back into the workplace if they feel comfortable enough doing so. For those who don’t, offering employees access to places like WeWork, a company that offers independent workspaces for individuals or groups to collaborate in, so employees can work in a clean and safe environment away from their home life. Workplaces can also offer mental health support services, both physical and virtual, to employees. The pandemic has been especially hard on workers’ mental health, and workplaces should be offering these services for free. Small events among employees can be organized as well so that people don’t have to sit at home and only communicate with their peers from there.

If workers are to fight against the stress and difficulty of continuing to work during the pandemic, workplaces need to meet them halfway and offer them opportunities to interact, share their ideas and promote wellness of mind and body. It is not the fault of employees that they’re feeling burned out because of working online; it is that of the workplaces who took so long to realize that their employees are human beings, not worker bees.