Shelly has just returned to work after a refreshing, much needed vacation.
During her time off, she decided to leave her smartphone and laptop at home. She only took an old mobile device with her that doesn’t connect to the internet, in case of an emergency. The only thing that mattered was relaxing on the beach and enjoying the vacation.
When she returned to work, she felt truly rejuvenated after this break. But after a few minutes she went back to her old ways. She was constantly checking her phone, multitasking and even interrupting the flow every time she heard a notification.
She was only able to relax when she went into “digital detox” mode. But can Shelly – and all of us – deny the technology?
In this modern world we rely on technology for everything. And digital detox means “returning to primitive times” when we only used the phone to… make calls. We could follow Shelly’s example and completely disconnect on vacation. But in our daily lives (how) can we achieve a digital detox?
A closer look at the paradox of digital detox
Digital overload has the potential to damage our mental health, our relationships and even our sleep habits. But at the same time, we still talk about it digital transformation, task automation, acceleration and so on at work. In this environment, we just can’t get enough of technology.
So what is technology to us and how does it affect our daily lives?
Virtual communication tools have made it possible for people to communicate instantly in a variety of ways. In a workplacebusinesses can operate seamlessly regardless of where their employees are located.
They also made these tools remote and hybrid work models viable solutions for organizations because interactions can take place anytime, anywhere. File and data sharing can also happen online easily and securely, while expanding your clientele around the world is more possible than ever.
But at the same time, being always available for communication can damage privacy and concentration levels.
For example, employees use productivity apps to track their projects or organize their workload. So far so good. At the same time, however, these applications can distract them from their work. They often interrupt their workflow to respond to a comment or even jump into Zoom calls to discuss an obstacle.
And it goes beyond work tools.
Most of us have chat and social media apps installed on our phones. Even if an employee mutes notifications while working, they will most likely take frequent breaks throughout the day to check their messages or social media. While breaks from work are highly encouraged, frequent interruptions to check for new messages could really disrupt their focus.
So the question is should they use all these technical tools or not? And will the occasional digital detox have an effect?
Uncovering the root of the problem
The problem is not technology per se.
Remember Shelly and her no-digital vacation? It sure was nice to lie on the beach and listen to the waves instead of email notifications. But after a few days she started to feel abandoned.
Was she missing something important?
Maybe she forgot the deadline?
She wished she had her smartphone with her so she could log in and check her emails “really quickly”.
It is clear from Shelly’s experience: It’s not technology. This is us. And our habits.
Technique has become a big part of our lives and will affect employees even if they don’t have access to it. So if we can’t fight technology, could we develop a healthier relationship with it?
How to reduce digital overload in an always-on world
In order to implement a digital detox policy at work and avoid constantly checking our inboxes (before bed, during lunch break and in the bathroom), there are a few things employees could benefit from and decompress from technology overuse.
1. Keep all information in one place
Using a platform that allows integration with various digital tools allows employees to search for what they want in one place rather than all over the place.
Help employees spend less time trying to figure out where that folder is or how to do a given task. They can do this by using an internal wiki or platform to store training materials and important documents that will be easy to navigate.
For example, if you use a a platform for employee training, make sure people don’t have to sign in to different apps. To save time, they should be able to log in one a platform where they can find training videos and courses, join live video conferences and access post-training materials.
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2. Ask for feedback
If you don’t know where to start and are wondering how to implement a digital detox culture at work, the best way is to keep it simple ask your employees. Find out what types of digital tools are distracting them at work, how much time they spend on them, and how they’re affecting their productivity.
After collecting this data, you can choose which software and applications are worth keeping or ditching for a digital workplace detox.
3. Set communication dos and don’ts
Employees should not be available 24/7. There must be clear rules on how often and when employees can contact each other. Encourage your teams not to check their email or work chat platforms when they finish their work day, on weekends and holidays.
In addition to limiting employee communication outside working hours, it is also necessary promote culture where employees are not required to respond to emails or instant messages on site. Forget micromanaging –give space to your employees fully concentrate on their tasks and have them answered within a reasonable time frame.
4. Limit meeting time
“This meeting could have been by email.
You’ve probably heard that before. And there is a reason why.
Meetings can be too long and take up a huge amount of your employees’ productive time. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, “employee productivity was 71% higher when meetings were reduced by 40%.
To encourage a digital detox in the workplace and allow your employees to spend more time away from screens, shorten your meetings. Or, if that’s not possible, take frequent breaks during long meetings. You can share the agenda with your teams in advance to prepare them for what will be discussed and save time.
Another idea is to implement a “day without meetings” so that employees can focus on their projects without any distractions.
Setting digital boundaries
A complete digital detox is not a realistic scenario in the modern world. But we could start by changing our habits and how we use technology. However, things will not change overnight. Or by taking overly drastic measures like deleting all apps from your phone or going incognito like Shelly.
Everyone can choose how to decompress. However, it is essential for employers to create a healthy work environment prioritizes mental health without compromises in the field of technological innovation.