According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, half of US teens say they use the internet “almost constantly.” Why does this matter? Because these technology addicts are your future employees and there’s evidence that digital addiction is promoting depression, stress, anxiety, poor sleep, loneliness, and even suicidal behavior.
Fortunately, there are ways to help people balance technology, according to Spaces, an international network of mobile workspaces.
1. GET CULTURED – A healthy tech policy, with clear communication guidelines, is vital. Ensure that team members are aware of when remote workers are online and when it is/isn’t ok to contact them. Create awareness through focus groups and town hall meetings about how overuse of devices can have detrimental effects.
2. ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES – Help employees understand what is expected of them, especially when it comes to working hours. Make sure there’s a clear end point to their day and that you don’t overstep it. Likewise, as an employee, if you’re working remotely, set your hours and stick to them.
3. MAKE PRODUCTIVITY COUNT – If you want employees to understand that disconnecting is ok, put emphasis on productivity rather than availability. Staff should be rewarded for completing a great piece of work on schedule, not for being accessible 24/7.
4. GET “APPY” – It may sound ironic, but tech can be used as a means of avoiding tech. Give employees access to screen-time apps which remind them to take a break if they’ve been emailing or texting for long periods of time.
5. TAKE A BREAK – For the office-based, introduce a daily tech-free break when all devices are unplugged. Encourage employees to use the time to gather thoughts over coffee, catch up with a colleague, or go for a walk.
6. STICK TO THE PLAN – Once you have policies in place, make sure everyone sticks to them. If leaders check their phones 24/7, it sends out the wrong message. Managers should encourage people to use their smartphones as a means of efficiency, and not let them be a distraction.
Jill, What Can I Do? Implement these great ideas in your workplace in an effort to combat digital addition. Your organization’s future depends on it.