As advocates of technology at Hamilton Forth, it’s not often we discuss the negative impact of technology or suggest taking a digital detox; but as screen fatigue and burnout become more prevalent again, Consultant Rachel Sim wanted to highlight the benefits of stepping away from your screens, and some strategies to help keep technology a positive aspect of our lives.
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 is reported to have risen as we emerged from the pandemic. This increased during the pandemic as people used technology partly out of boredom and partly out of a need to communicate and connect with people whilst in lockdown; however, whilst social opportunity has bounced back, our screen time 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. Self-regulation of our technology usage can be challenging due to the instant accessibility and overreliance we now have on the internet and digital platforms (in both our personal and professional lives).
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 (though 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 are able to switch off?
Being aware of your behaviour is key to changing it. People often glance, check or scroll on their phones almost subconsciously at several points throughout the day. Limiting or turning off your notifications so that these distractions do not interrupt other activities, can help reduce screen time and our urge to multi-screen; helping you achieve a flow state (optimal working conditions). Whilst I write this, I have four screens within my immediate view: a laptop, a monitor and two mobile phones (work and personal). Removing distractions and focusing on one sole activity, without popups and interrupting notifications, will help ensure your full attention is given to the job at hand.
Although a digital detox might seem impossible with work commitments, there are ways we can take back some control of the amount of time we spend staring at screens. In many workplaces, eating a sandwich at your desk has become the norm. Using your lunch time to step away from screens and get some fresh air can be a great way to clear your head and improve afternoon productivity. Once a week during 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. Additionally, 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 takes responsibility for providing a healthy lunch for the office, and everyone gathers away from their desks to catch up for an hour.
Whilst a full digital detox can seem unachievable, building in small ‘tech-free’ breaks and making small changes can help support employee wellbeing, reduce stress levels, and improve productivity – benefiting both the business and employees in the long-run.
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].