The Digital Detox: Employee Health & our Relationship with Technology

As advocates of technology at Livingston James, it’s not often we discuss the negative impact of technology or suggest taking a digital detox; however, in light of the increasing prevalence of screen fatigue and burnout, and as people set goals for the new year, Consultant Rachel Sim highlights why limiting screen time may set you up for a more healthy and productive 2024.

 

Technostress

Lack of focus, becoming demotivated and increased levels of anxiety are all results of becoming overwhelmed by overuse of technology and its rapid advancements. Screen time was reported to have increased considerably during the pandemic; understandably, people used technology partly out of boredom and partly out of a need to communicate and connect with people whilst in lockdown. However, now that social opportunity has bounced back, our average screen time still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Technostress” is a term gaining increased popularity and coverage across LinkedIn and news outlets. The term refers to a feeling of anxiety or overstimulation from the overuse of technology. This challenge of self-regulation is compounded by the instant accessibility and pervasive reliance on the internet and digital platforms in both personal and professional spheres.

Technostress, although more prevalent than ever, is not a new concept and has been discussed since the early 80s when access to PCs and mobile phones became mainstream (albeit with far fewer capabilities). If technostress was caused by technological advancements in the 80s, it’s easy to understand how this challenge has been magnified today. So, while most jobs now rely heavily on our use of technology, how can we prevent technostress and ensure we really ‘switch off’?

 

Digital Detoxing & Wellbeing

Conscious awareness of one’s behavior is crucial for effecting change. Many individuals engage with their phones almost subconsciously throughout the day, perpetuating distractions and multi-screening tendencies. Limiting or disabling notifications can mitigate these interruptions, fostering a focused work environment conducive to achieving a state of flow. While the concept of a digital detox might seem impractical amidst professional commitments, there are some practical measures we can take to reclaim control over our digital use.

In many workplaces, eating lunch at your desk has become the norm. Using your lunch break to step away from screens and get some fresh air can be a great way to clear your head and improve afternoon productivity. As an example, every Tuesday lunchtime, Consultant Gillian O’Neil from our sister brand, Rutherford Cross, runs a yoga class to give colleagues the opportunity to relax and reset after a morning at their desks.

At Livingston James Group, we are encouraged to get out and about, meeting clients and candidates for coffee meetings on a frequent basis; and although this may be encouraged for commercial benefit, the result is that we are not sat at a desk on our laptops for the full duration of the day. Furthermore, encouraging staff to have some meetings face-to-face, not only reduces screen time but allows people to build deeper connections and relationships.

Employers have a responsibility to support employee wellbeing. At Livingston James Group, we have a dedicated wellness committee who are responsible for promoting internal wellbeing initiatives such as the yoga sessions and a lunch club. During our monthly lunch clubs, one employee from each office takes responsibility for providing a healthy lunch for the team, and everyone gathers away from their desks to catch up for an hour.

 

Time to Get Planning

While a complete digital detox might be unattainable, incorporating small, tech-free breaks and making incremental changes can contribute to supporting employee wellbeing, reducing stress levels, and enhancing productivity: an outcome that proves beneficial for both organisations and employees in the long term.

As we establish our health-focused objectives and routines for 2024, now is a great time to define and implement clear digital boundaries, as well as productive habits for the future.

 

If you are looking for support building out your tech team, or you’d like some guidance around employee retention and hiring in general, please reach out for a confidential discussion: [email protected].

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