Technology has made the world feel like a smaller place. It is easy to work with people from all over the globe, access an endless reservoir of knowledge, and be constantly connected to family, friends, and work.
However, this constant state of being “plugged in” can blur the lines between home and work. It can even make it difficult for people to set boundaries and get the downtime they need in order to be creative, motivated and productive.
A study by LinkedIn found that 70 percent of professionals don’t fully unplug from work. Microsoft also commissioned a study of 1,400 information workers which found that 40 percent of people work outside their regular hours in a way that interferes with family time.
And research from Utah State University found that a person’s use of their mobile device for work during family time not only negatively impacted the employee and their spouse, but also led to higher instances of burnout, a decreased commitment to their employer, and an increased likelihood of quitting.
Workplace wellbeing is all about maintaining good physical and mental health, both at work and at home. Switching off and recharging is an essential aspect of this. Those who don't manage to switch off risk chronic stress and eventual burnout.
So, to prevent stress and burnout we look at some practical ways that you can support your team to unplug and recharge.
Make Unplugging Part Of Your Business Culture
Do you find your employees striving to be the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave? Is there an unspoken expectation that they should be available 24/7?
This dedication and drive is amazing to see in your team. They obviously want to give their very best to their role. But, this kind of behaviour is not the best for workplace wellbeing. It is just not sustainable. Even the most enthusiastic employee will burn out, become less productive, and lose motivation without more balance.
Researchers found that when people "unplugged" from work related tasks, such as checking their work email after hours, they reported feeling fresher and better recharged when beginning work the following day. For anyone who has ever experienced burnout at work, this isn't too surprising. We can only do so much for so long before feeling exhausted. Constantly plugging into our screens doesn't help matters.
Instead, ensure that your company culture values and rewards wellbeing and balance above all else. Emphasise quality over quantity. Your team (and their productivity) will be much better for it.
Create Wellbeing Policies
One way to support your team in unplugging and recharging is to create company wide policies that restrict after-hours communication.
You could instigate a rule that nobody will send work-related emails or messages after 6 pm or before 8.30 am (except in a genuine emergency). This truly gives employees a "switch off" time. They won't feel obliged to check their emails throughout the evening and will hit the office clear-headed and refreshed.
There are lots of other ways that you could implement wellbeing policies at your workplace. If you need some help putting them in place, then get in touch with us here at Wellbeing Workshop. We have oodles of ideas and a team of industry thought leaders that can lend you their expertise.
Lead By Example
It is important for leaders and managers to model the behaviour they wish to see. It is equally crucial that they learn to unplug and hit the refresh button themselves!
Treat your out of work hours, weekends and holidays as precious. If possible, avoid touching base with the office during those periods, and model healthy balance to your team. Some people may feel more comfortable checking in with the office occasionally on holiday. Therefore, arrange times in advance for when communication is to take place and ensure both parties stick to the designated times.
You might not think a leader’s actions will have much impact on the team. But, at one Fortune 100 technology company, data revealed that every hour leaders spent working outside of regular working hours translated to 20 minutes of after-hour work time for direct reports. The numbers vary, but similar patterns have surfaced at several other companies.
Give Incentives For Unplugging
Some companies provide incentives to encourage employees to truly unplug. There could be incentives for taking vacations without checking in with work and true weekend downtime.
It is up to you on how you incentivise this. It could be an early finish on a Friday, gamification where the winner gets a prize, or earning a team building lunch.
Help Employees Kick The Habit
With 95% of New Zealander’s online for an average of six hours every day, internet addiction is a genuine concern. It can be uncomfortable for people to wean themselves off the phone habit. Support your staff with wellness programs that keep them busy offline, such as exercise classes or meditation, and encourage face to face interaction throughout the office.
While multitasking was once a prized ability, studies have shown that it is far more effective to focus on a single task at a time. Having multiple devices makes it tempting to try and juggle many jobs at once. But in reality, it actually hinders productivity. Writing a report while answering an email and messaging a client on your phone is scattered energy.
Encourage people to put their phones aside when they enter a meeting and be fully present with their colleagues. When working at the computer, close those extra tabs, and hone your focus.
Technology has become a staple part of modern business. There are so many advantages to using it on a daily basis. It makes things easier, faster, and more efficient. But, like everything, we all need a break from technology and the pressures it provides.
Workplace wellbeing is more than encouraging good health. It is encouraging good practices in all areas. So if you want to help your team to be happier, healthier (and unplugged from time to time) then check out our wellbeing programmes.