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Work/Life Balance - Enforced Digital Downtime

Digital devices are tools of everyday life, especially work life. But too much device time leads to distraction and attention problems. Enforcement of downtime can help with stress, mood and burnout.


To decrease device time and allow for a more balanced day as well as increased productivity.

What is Enforced Digital Downtime?
Enforced digital downtime is simply a policy or provision at work that “forces” workers to unplug and focus on other tasks. Some companies in Europe enforce digital downtime after work, meaning they are not to answer emails from home. Others might encourage it during the day so that tasks, rather than checking social media, for example, are completed and productivity is enhanced.

How does Enforced Digital Downtime improve employee engagement and culture?
Many workers rely on devices and e-mail etc. to convey information and communicate. With this comes a dis-connection between employees, managers and the organization as a whole. By enforcing some digital downtime, employees are encouraged to speak and communicate directly and engage in work assignments with more natural interaction. Also, If staff are continually working through lunch breaks, responding to emails via their personal devices late at night or at weekends and constantly responding to requests and queries during their designated holidays, they will be increasingly stressed, burnout and naturally less engaged on other issues.

What are the benefits?
Process improvement
Product quality improvement
Mental relaxation
Being more present
Greater actual engagement with workers and clients

How do you Enforce Digital Downtime in the workplace?
Conducting digital downtime at work is not an easy task given today’s ways to communicate and share information. However, as the department tasked with employee wellness, HR should consider adding exercise or yoga breaks during the day. Also, device-free zones can be created where workers are encouraged to engage without the distraction of devices. Policies for no emails after work or during holidays should also be considered.


Enforce Digital Downtime Across Departments

Encourage a new culture: Talk to employees at lunch-n-learns or annual meetings about the need to disconnect with devices and reconnect with employees (or themselves).

Create a policy: Find ways or times of the day where device downtime makes sense. Implement it in short batches and monitor success or changes required.

Create a holiday/after work policy: Encourage employees to shutdown after work. Less stress upon seeing that “blinking light” will refresh employees and make them more productive at work.

Lead by example: Talk to employee face to face. Announce messages at meetings and events, and explain why you are using devices less frequently and direct communication more frequently.

Implement time management skills: The overuse of devices and under performance in other areas may be a time management problem. Promote courses and activities to help workers better manage their time (with or without devices).

Reference Material
The importance of regular downtime
5 Ways to Promote a Better Work-Life Balance

Updated on: 12/24/2020

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