Building A Healthy Digital Workplace Culture
Practical tips for building a healthy digital culture in the workplace of the future
Now more than ever before we need to be paying attention to employee wellbeing as the use of technology is higher than ever before. Many businesses are looking to enhance the connection and engagement over digital platforms without the downsides of overloading or distracting their team.
Addressing digital culture has become a vital part of business strategy
The struggle to find a balance with technology is nothing businesses haven’t faced before. A 2019 CIPD survey revealed 87% of professionals feel technology has a negative impact by leading to an inability to switch off outside of working hours.
However, those boundaries between home life and work life have suddenly become less visible and harder to enforce.
The frequent distractions from our groaning inboxes and chirping mobiles lead to rapid switching between tasks and attempts to multitask, which research indicates can reduce productivity by as much as 40% . Our brains are in fact not able to multitask, instead what we are doing is task switching which divides our cognitive resource between the juggling priorities and means we can’t give our best to any individual one. By encouraging work practices and culture, which facilitate unitatsking, teams can find a greater sense of ease and feel better as they can focus on their priorities and achieve more during the 9-5.
With an increased challenge to set important boundaries between home and work and teams having to come to terms with new screen-time issues such as “Zoom exhaustion”, helping employees to create a healthy relationship with technology is a key part of supporting wellbeing during remote-working.
Although the statistics paint a gloomy picture, it also presents an opportunity for organisations to be forward thinking and provide employees with conditions for success, satisfaction and positive mental health.
Three steps you can take today are:
Have a conversation with your team to understand how their personal digital habits and how your team’s digital culture is impacting them
Do they feel an organisational pressure to be checking and responding to email out of hours? Maybe they find the number of emails, video calls or instant messages overwhelming or preventing focused work? How easy do they find it to create healthy boundaries between work and home? Mental health awareness week is a great platform for exploring these issues.
There is a difference between remote working before COVID-19 and remote working now in that many employees have not chosen this situation or been prepared for how to work effectively from home. I have found in conversations, many teams feel they have over-adopted video calls as a means of communication and this is having an impact, leaving employees feeling mentally exhausted.
The good thing is that there are many ways you can alleviate the issues such as over-use of video calls. A couple of examples include instilling a culture of 25 and 50 minute video calls, therefore avoiding those back to back marathons, and small tricks like hiding self-view so you’re not as distracted by your face on screen (which again uses up those cognitive resources and increases mental exhaustion!).
Uncovering the issues is the first step to being able to make the right changes for your team.
Think about providing guidelines to support a healthy team culture
If you want to reduce the pressure your team are feeling to read and respond to email outside of the working day, can you set a guideline that only critical email is sent outside of a certain timeframe (e.g. 8am – 6pm)?
Many are surprised at the personal options available such as ‘delaying delivery’ of email. If you do have to work late then send that email but let it arrive until the following morning. For team leaders, you can set the example with this. One basic step, amongst many, to reduce the number of out-of-hours emails and creates a healthier digital culture.
Often there can be unwritten rules within a team’s dynamic that become a culture over time. What are your team’s dynamics around email and out of hours working? For example, many employees are talking to me during remote working about feeling a pressure to be visible online. They over-prioritise quick responses to email and instant messages to ‘prove’ they are working but end the day wondering what they have really achieved.
Consider introducing a ‘focused hour’ where your team are able to switch off from email, not be concerned about appearing offline and be able to focus on achieving the tasks that can really only be done effective in a state of deeper focus. You can set a particular time that the whole team can use for focused work. Or you can create a culture, which understands the value of focused work and empowers employees with the confidence to schedule and communicate their own focused work hours
Explore training to enhance your digital culture
Digital culture lies at the heart of your organisation and training is key to cascading down your desired culture. Live More Offline training goes wider than wellbeing issues, it targets meaningful changes in three key areas (i) digital productivity, (ii) digital wellbeing and (iii) virtual connection and engagement.
Training gives your team the ability to see and change technology habits, which get in the way of their goals and the achieving the things that matter each day.
With significant digital transformation experienced since lockdown, come problems such as ineffective remote meetings and always on working. But we should not forget that we also have an incredible opportunity to create more innovative and better ways of working, in the midst of this change.
Entrenched beliefs once held about the ways we should work have been shattered. Dynamics once thought not possible are happening. We have never had a better time to increase collaboration, cut through email inefficiency, explore asynchronous working, invest in the wellbeing side of technology use and enhance performance and innovation.
Now is the time to turn your digital culture into a strategic asset!