14 June 2016

How often are you out of arm’s reach of your phone?

How many hours do you spend looking at a screen each day?4263193267_fb5cee0c57_z

I’d bet that, more often than not, your phone is to hand. This addiction to technology is increasing our stress levels at work. The ‘always on’ culture that having blanket access to tech has created, is actually doing more harm than good.

According to the BBC, it’s making us more distracted and less productive; the absolute opposite of what we’d intend.

Although these findings are hardly a surprise, they do show the importance of taking breaks and making sure everyone in your team has an opportunity for some off-line time.

How do you know where all of your time is going when you spend the day staring at a screen, moving from one application to another?

It is so easy to become distracted by the ping of an incoming email, tweet or text message – enough to break your train of thought for the rest of the day. Unfortunately this easily becomes a habit and, before too long, you struggle to concentrate on just one task or start doing things on auto pilot, rather than thinking creatively about the task at hand. This is a cycle than benefits nobody; employees will become bored and unmotivated and business leaders eventually lose talent.

Whilst there have been some extreme examples of companies trying to tackle this by stopping employees’ access to work emails after working hours or blocking email altogether, I think that a more creative balance is needed.

Balancing tech is tricky, both in and out of the office. But do we really need even more tech, like internet monitoring apps, to help keep us focussed?

Whilst UKFast is a tech company, we still promote offline time; time the team has to spend away from their desk and – most importantly – their screens. It’s something that I believe all businesses should actively encourage, not just by company culture, but with the work environment too.

Personally, I prefer to break up the day with some exercise or a walk with the dogs. Squash and personal training are static appointments in my calendar. I know that this time in the gym or on the court is essential to help me be productive in the office too.

Exercise is the best way to re-energize in the middle of the day, which is why we have running clubs, spinning and kettle bell classes, as well as twice-weekly yoga sessions in the office. Taking time out often helps us to come back to work with renewed energy and a new perspective on problems.

The fine line between being productive and being over connected is no doubt one that will become even finer as we become more and more technologically advanced. Whilst there is no doubt in my mind that new technology will help us to evolve and do business better, ultimately it is up to us to place limits on our time and maintain the balance.

How do you encourage your team to take offline breaks?

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