Help Your Employees Take 24 on “National Day of Unplugging”
By: Cathie Ericson | February 5, 2020
We hope you read this article before March 7. That’s because ideally you won’t be online to read it that day, as your business helps celebrate a healthy work/life balance by disconnecting from technology on the “National Day of Unplugging.” The goal is to give all of us a 24-hour break to enjoy people, hobbies and relationships “IRL.”
And a break we need, considering the significant amount of time we spend clicking, scrolling and swiping—one study puts our daily email consumption at more than 5.5 hours, and another finds that we spend more than 3.5 hours on mobile devices. Whether there is overlap or not, there’s no denying that is a huge chunk of our day consumed by digital media.
Of course, much of our technology time is either productive or enjoyable or both…it helps us do our jobs better and keeps us in touch. But taking a break and disconnecting from technology can be healthy for all. Here are some ways that your company culture can promote employee work/life balance on the National Day of Unplugging…and then continue on every day to create a culture that is oriented toward living life to the fullest.
1. Give them advance warning about National Day of Unplugging
No one wants to be informed of a technology fast when they’re not adequately prepared. You can promote the day with some fun posters around the office—and, ironically enough, on social media—and offer a sample “auto reply” the team can use to let clients know why they will be less responsive than usual. Who knows…your participation might spark interest from others.
2. Take the team out of the office
If the lure of digital media is too strong sitting in front of the computer, you can consider an offsite or walking get together. If you head to a restaurant, you can have everyone put their device mid-table, and the first person to reach for theirs has to bring a treat to work the next day—or some other minor consequence. (Some groups of friends make this a “pick up the check” offense, but that could be inappropriate with work colleagues.) When you practice disconnecting from technology for short stints, you might find it’s easier than you thought. Plus, who doesn't love a team-building event?
3. Use the National Day of Unplugging to set goals for the year
Try to promote work/life balance with employees by encouraging them to take the plunge and unplug the entire 24 hours. And then you can help them track their technology use—everything from social media to digital media—so they know exactly how much time they are spending and spur them to decrease a little each day. You can have each team member choose an “alternate activity” to pursue, whether it’s exercising, learning a new hobby or spending time with family and friends, and have them report on their progress.
4. Think twice before hitting “send”
Many managers catch up on work after the official work day ends, which can be useful, but it can also create stress for the rest of the team, who might assume they should answer. You can talk with managers about refraining from emailing colleagues outside of work hours unless it is an actual emergency, since disconnecting from technology can be challenging for employees who fear they must be “always on.” Instead, suggest they queue up the message to send during official work hours so as not to infringe on work/life balance. Or, encourage them to add a tagline such as, “I am catching up on email but don’t expect you to answer outside of office hours.”
In today’s wired world, a company that inspires work/life balance by encouraging disconnecting from technology will create an appealing culture that will more easily attract talent, and the National Day of Unplugging is the perfect catalyst to start.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared in LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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