Our new white paper, At the crossroads: The need for a digital rebalance, explores our relationship with technology at work and offers a compelling case for developing effective digital wellbeing strategies.
Over recent years, digital technology has become embedded in our social fabric, and so disruptive is it that few areas of our lives remain untouched. It offers us a wealth of information, removes communication barriers and enables swift transmission of information, but it’s also addictive. The speed at which new technologies are introduced means research into their impact generally only occurs once they’re already established. In the case of digital technology, the emerging research is telling us that its impact isn’t entirely benign.
New studies suggest that the way that the technology is currently used in workplaces could be reducing productivity, impinging on creativity, depleting attention spans and affecting the quality of our relationships and communication. There are serious implications here for business performance and productivity, so why aren’t more leaders putting digital wellbeing on their agenda?
It’s a relatively new field, but forward-thinking businesses are already taking account of the wider implications of the fast-evolving digital landscape. We believe more leaders need to take this issue seriously, and introduce measures to mitigate the harm that digital overload can cause. The benefits of creating a digital wellbeing strategy are significant as is the potential harm if employees engage in excessive digital consumption.
Our new white paper shares innovative strategies from a number of companies who have reappraised how digital technology is employed in their organisation. Tackling poor digital behaviour in the workplace is now becoming a business imperative.
Seven ways to rebalance use of digital technology in your organisation:
1. If digital wellbeing isn’t on your business agenda, make it a priority. Our reliance on this technology is growing, so now is the time to ensure your people are developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with their devices.
2. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a digital wellbeing strategy. Each workplace has its own priorities and issues, so your strategy needs to be exactly that – strategic. Ad-hoc or knee-jerk reactions to issues like smartphone use in the office are unlikely to bring sustainable and healthy change, and will probably result in employee disaffection and closet resistance.
3. Prioritise prevention. Your wellbeing programmes shouldn’t be about picking up the pieces when employees lurch towards burnout. They should be about creating a healthy workplace environment that builds and maintains the wellbeing of your people. Taking a proactive approach to digital wellbeing can be a great way to accomplish that.
4. Develop and share guidance around digital activity in the workplace as well as at home, to avoid creating an always-on culture that can lead to burnout and stress. Educate your people over a range of different platforms – utilising your leaders and line managers, as well as your intranet, email and other internal communications.
5. Introduce meeting structures that have clear protocols as to what technology is permissible. The absence of smartphones from a meeting is likely to result in much tighter participant focus, especially where the agenda is complex, or time is tight.
6. Consider allowing employees to carve out tech-free time during the day when they can focus on complex tasks free from the constant interruptions of emails and other notifications. This will greatly enhance their capacity to work creatively.
7. Best practice should be implemented, not just enshrined in policy. Ensure business leaders model good behaviours by avoiding sending emails outside of work hours, to allow employees to switch off from their work.
It’s time to think about how you can get the best out of your technology. We’re not advocating a rejection of our digital devices – there are countless ways in which they have become indispensable to how we work. It’s more about adopting a healthy approach to how we use them, so we gain all of the benefits they confer without it being at the expense of our health and wellbeing.