These days, the vast majority of companies rely on technology to carry out their vital operations. This means that for many workers, it’s not unusual to be staring at a screen of some kind all day long. Spending this much time online, however, is hugely detrimental to your quality of life.
It’s up to you, as a digital parent of sorts, to ensure your employees’ good health through encouraging offline time. Though it might seem counterintuitive to actively encourage your employees to escape their computers, it’ll ultimately make for a more engaged, enthusiastic workforce. Check out the why and the how below.
Why is offline time important for employees?
1. Increased productivity
Even a five-minute break away from the screen per hour has been proven to increase productivity twofold. Simply getting away from the computer glare for a few minutes helps to refresh workers’ eyes and attitudes, and makes it much easier for them to progress through their daily tasks. It’s even better if they take that five minutes to stretch their legs and reconnect with their bodies.
2. Reduced mental strain
Research has proven that the more hours spent with technology, the higher the incidence of depression, stress, and other types of mental and physical illness (including obesity).
Think about it: you, as a business owner, need your employees to be healthy and calm for the success of your venture. It’s therefore in your best interest to tear them away from technology wherever possible. If nothing else, think about the reduced costs you’ll enjoy as an employer if your workforce is well-balanced and content.
3. More creativity
Computers and other modes of technology encourage employees to function like automatons, spotting a task and ticking it off as quickly as possible. But where’s the thought and reflection in this process? How can managers and CEOs possibly expect to cultivate innovative employees when this is the way in which they’re taught to go about their work?
Offline time means slowing down to really think and ponder – which opens up the potential for truly ground-breaking new ideas and innovations. Has your company been looking for a new design, action plan, or advertising campaign? Then it’s time to start brainstorming without any tech in sight.
How should you encourage it?
4. Promote outdoor lunches
Whether out of habit or duty, many workers feel bound to spending their lunch breaks at work. If you haven’t already, make it clear that those who work for the company are free to take their lunch wherever they like – and preferably outside! You could even inaugurate a lunch-break team and make a daily habit of picnicking in the great outdoors, entirely phone-free. Breathing in all that fresh air and just chilling out for a while will reinvigorate your workers for the afternoon ahead.
5. Establish a gadget-free zone
So, you’ve successfully lured your workers away from their computers – but where do they go to have their five-minute breaks?! Some people may prefer a walk outside, but for others who’d prefer to stay on the premises, it’s vital to establish a comfortable, spacious gadget-free zone where employees can sit, relax, and meditate during their offline time.
6. Promote offline weekends
Part of every job contract should include a clause that relates to out-of-hours working practices. Research has proven time and again that people need psychological detachment from work in order to enjoy their own lives – and the ability to detach properly (that is, technologically!) comes from the top.
As a company manager, you’re responsible for shaping a culture that pushes against checking emails, making calls, and finishing up online presentations on the weekends. Set your employees a no-phone and no-computer weekend challenge, and just you wait to see how much more relaxed they look come Monday morning.
Author’s bio: Cloe is a freelance writer based in Dunedin, New Zealand. Her collaborative work with local business sites such as Keith Andrews requires her to spend much of her day in front of a computer, which is why she makes sure she takes lifesaving mini breaks, whether a quick coffee run or an invigorating stroll around her garden. You can read more about Cloe’s work on her Tumblr page.