Digital wellbeing: how to improve your team’s relationship with technology
September 21 2022 - Digital wellbeing is becoming a key phrase in the workplace - and its significance is only set to rise, according to techtimeout founder Stephanie Henson. So, how can (and why should) HR teams aim improve relationships with technology within their business?
The way most of us work has changed almost beyond recognition in recent years - no longer do we stand up from our desks at 5pm, switch off our desktop computer and leave the office to commute home, returning the next day at 9am.
Now a quarter of us have adopted ‘hybrid working’ - splitting our time between home and the company HQ, and another 14% of us are exclusively working from home. We carry around laptops, tablets and smartphones which enable us to remotely log in to systems, check emails during our commute, and answer colleague queries no matter what we’re doing or where we are.
This 24/7 access to technology has improved our lives in many ways, and given lots of us the flexibility to work in ways which suit our lifestyles rather than an old-fashioned notion of set hours for all. But, just as most good things come with less desirable side effects, this reliance on tech has seen a rise in physical and emotional problems and has been linked to everything from eye strain and neck pain to depression and burnout.
That’s why forward-thinking employers have begun implementing digital wellbeing strategies, recognising the benefits to their team - and to the business as a whole - of supporting staff to enjoy better relationships with technology.
Recognising the impact
The first step in improving your team’s relationship with technology is recognising exactly what they’re currently struggling with. Digital wellbeing isn’t a simple case of reducing the time spent looking at a screen, it’s much more nuanced than this - covering everything from pressure to reply to emails outside of work hours to ‘leaveism’ - the practice of working while on annual leave.
Set out expectations
Staff shouldn’t feel the need to reply to non-urgent queries when they’re not supposed to be working, and similarly their colleagues shouldn’t be pestering them for an instant response. Establishing a protocol which alleviates that pressure while still ensuring emails are responded to in a timely matter, and ensuring everyone knows the working patterns of their colleagues, can help here.
Do as I do
If managers are responding to emails late at night or during their holidays, or sitting at their desk all day without taking a break, then this signals to staff that they should be doing this too - no matter what your wellbeing policy says. This is definitely a case of leading by example.
Reduce the overwhelm
If your team are contacting each other by email, text, instant messaging, social media etc then it’s easy to become overwhelmed. A clear policy will set out not only when it’s suitable to contact colleagues, but also how - ideally you’ll have one method of communication for work-related queries and another for ‘water cooler’ chat, organising team activities and other non-work topics.
The business case
It’s easy to see why it would be beneficial to your team to improve their relationships with technology and support their digital wellbeing - but the side effect is a team which is more engaged and motivated, more productive, less likely to need time off for health issues - and also more loyal to your company because you’re looking after them well.
And in a world where jobseekers are looking for something more than simply a good salary, showing that you’ve implemented effective strategies which cover all aspects of wellbeing - including digital - is a great place to start for employers looking to recruit now, or in the future.
When it comes to employee health and wellbeing, more companies than ever are now alive to the fact a ‘whole person’ approach is most effective - and that’s why it’s a case of not only considering their physical and emotional health, digital wellbeing is a crucial part of that jigsaw and one which switched-on business leaders already have high on their agenda.
Stephanie Henson is the founder of techtimeout, the digital wellbeing company. Steph and her team support businesses across the UK to develop and implement effective strategies, and train digital wellbeing workplace champions. Businesses interested in finding out more can download techtimeout’s free guide at www.techtimeout.co.uk/guide.