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Digital overload is very real and has only increased with the pandemic, as people are working remotely and socialising has become dependent on staying connected. Experts have repeatedly shown that too much screen time can result in physical ailments such as insomnia, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and in mental ailments such as depression, stress, and an inability to focus or complete tasks.

It is essential that employers address the perils of digital overload if they want to ensure staff remain happy, healthy and productive. Creating policies that encourage your staff to digitally detox is an important part of this complex puzzle. A digital detox refers to periods in the workday when employees can reap the benefits of taking a break from technology.

Here are some tips to encourage your staff to stop deteriorating and start detoxing.

  1. No-phone zones

    Try implementing no-phone zones where staff are encouraged to avoid having their phones on them. This will create boundaries and, if applied consistently, will encourage staff to associate certain areas as phoneless. A no-phone zone could be your break, meeting or hangout room, or else another quiet spot in the office. When staff are in these no-phone zones, their phones should be out of reach or alternatively switched to silent. Research has shown that simply hearing the sound of a bing! is enough to severely elevate your stress levels.

  2. Encourage outdoor walks

    Encourage your staff to block off a 20-minute timeslot during the workday for a relaxing outdoor walk. This will allow them to unwind and recuperate. As an employer, you should aim to celebrate these moments of relaxation in order to demonstrate your support and show employees that there is always time to look after yourself.

  3. Benefit from a fake commute

    We appreciate that remote workers face a unique set of challenges. Given that the daily commute to work plays an important role in allowing employees to reset their mindsets, encourage your remote workers to try a fake commute. This may involve taking a short walk in the morning before work to grab coffee or just benefit from some fresh air. The same could be repeated in the evening.

  4. Discourage desk lunches

    It’s ever so tempting to take lunch at your desk while in a meeting or catching up on emails. This should be strongly discouraged. When employees are at their desks, they are not reaping the full benefits of a lunch break. Everyone should have the time to switch off and enjoy their food mindfully.

  5. Support physical meetings

    Virtual meetings have become mainstream. But these should be mixed up from time to time with physical meetings where staff can benefit from human interaction away from their screens. Physical meetings give employees a crucial break from living on their screens, and may even result in enhanced brainstorming and creativity.

  6. Create guidelines

    Employees should be given the opportunity to disconnect from their email, phones and laptops at certain parts of the day, for example out of work hours and over lunchtime. In some countries, including France, there are in fact laws giving staff the legal right to disconnect from electronic devices. This might seem counterproductive, but giving your staff the chance to disconnect may in fact boost productivity during the times they are connected.

    Digital technology is an essential component of every workplace, but employers need to safeguard their staff from the perils of overuse. Creating policies that encourage employees to consider a digital detox may help your staff in the long-term with being able to live healthier and more productive work lives.

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