Could a daily digital detox be good for business?
A digital detox might just sound like another self-healing, corporate buzzword but the initiative is making a real difference in people’s working lives.
The idea can simply be defined as a time period where a person stops using electronic devices like smartphones or tablets to reduce stress or focus on social interactions.
Human attention spans have plummeted in the last decade or so since the first smartphone rolled off the production line. An Eir survey in 2015 found that 70% of the Irish population now uses a smartphone and that 20% of the adult population now check their phones or Internet services every waking hour of the day. Companies are feeling the cost of these distractions in the workplace with many employees staying late or skipping lunch to catch up on work.
Leaders in the field
Like every other muscle in the body, the brain can become worn out from overuse or being over exposed. An example of this is employees checking work emails and tasks outside of office hours. Companies such as BMW and Volkswagen have gone to such lengths to ensure a digital detox that they actually deactivate their email servers once the work day has ended. Other corporate leaders such as Richard Branson have introduced a switch off time during the day. Each Wednesday between 10am and 12pm, employees at Virgin management in the UK and US switch off their emails for two hours to instead attend creatively engaging meetings or running clubs.
By ensuring this downtime becomes a regular part of the day, the likes of Virgin and BMW are helping reduce work related stress in their employees.
Eliminate and create
Creativity itself can also be encouraged away from the office screen. Humans are not engineered to multitask. We’re at our best when we give our complete and undivided attention to one thing at a time. Multitasking slows us down and narrows channels of thought. Attempting to plan or brainstorm while also flicking through Facebook, and scanning the latest Snapchat filters, will get you nowhere fast. When the device is removed from the equation, creativity is finally able to flourish. A digital detox is the perfect way to remove the smartphone from the scenario.
Never too busy for a break
Employees need to be encouraged to get outside during the day. Fresh air is good for the mind. Any employee should always use their lunch break to get outside, even for a short walk to get some food. Log out, switch off, and leave all electronic devices in the office while you stroll through the park with a coffee. Alternatively, employers are being encouraged to provide well stocked and comfortable break rooms that encourage conversation and socialising among staff.
The constantly connected nature of modern work is, more often than not, simply leaving us constantly exhausted. Even during annual leave, workers still check and respond to work related emails and calls. This means we never truly switch off and allow our minds to rest. Younger companies such as Netflix and Evernote are changing the vacation landscape by actually paying for their employees’ holidays in an effort to curb stress and burnout.
The digital detox may prove to be the ultimate key to unlocking true relaxation and refreshment. The detox allows for a temporary yet complete disassociation with work activities and worries. Its primary benefit is helping workers return to the office fully revitalized and stress. After all, the happier the employee, the higher the standard of work.