Put down that phone!
I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review about counteracting smartphone addiction. This got me thinking about the scale of the problem this is becoming, not only to our relationships (professional and personal), but also our mental and physical health.
Through their devices, most people have instant access to emails, internet and social media 24/7. The temptation for work to begin as soon as you wake up and end far in to the night is very real. For many, there is an unspoken expectation that emails, messages and queries from clients should be answered immediately, no matter the time, particularly in a fast–paced corporate world.
In 2017 Forbes magazine stated that 48% of people that spend five or more hours on their smartphone per day, have experienced mental health issues. So how can we ensure that the mental health of our team and colleagues is not at risk?
Here are our top tips:
- Try recalibrating response time expectations of your colleagues and peers- several multinational companies, such as Volkswagen, are adapting to a 7am – 7pm policy. Emails and messages can of course be sent at any time, but a response can only be expected between these hours. Why not try and set aside time every day in your team where there is no expectation for someone to reply instantly.
- Think about to whom you are sending emails and who is on copy. Do all emails need to go to everyone in the office? Try reducing the amount of emails that people need to review, particularly if it’s not urgent or necessary relevant for individuals. This may also help to encourage some to feel less complied to check their emails in the evening, allowing them time for other activities, friends and family.
- Encourage everyone to eat lunch together and talk about things outside of work so that conversation is stimulating, and colleagues will join in, rather than feeling enticed to look at their phone and check all social media and emails.
- Of course, exercise is always a good answer - try going for a walk at lunch and leaving your phone in the office.
Breaks are important, the human brain cannot work continuously all day, but looking at your smart phone and catching up on social media does not count as a proper restorative and refreshing break. To improve focus, creativity and motivation try taking a ‘smartphone free’ break and see the impact this has on the quality of your work afterwards.