Technology is a wonderful thing. It’s amazing what we can do today using technology.
That being said, technology can also create challenges. And I’m not talking about whether our technology works or not (although that can be a problem). There’s research that indicates our use of technology can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. I recently shared with you Dan Schawbel’s new book “Back to Human”, where he talks about technology creating workplace loneliness.
The answer? Well, one of the things we need to do is learn how to step away from technology every once in a while. My friend Mark Fogel recently wrote a post over on the SHRM blog titled, “HR, it’s Time to Get Your Employees to Unplug”. It’s a good read and definitely worth your time.
I would add one thing to Mark’s comments about HR encouraging employees to unplug and that’s HR needs to learn how to do it themselves. If you already know how, that’s fantastic! But as a human resources professional, I know unplugging is hard. I’ll admit that personally, I’m not great at it. It would be hard for me to tell employees to unplug if I don’t do it myself.
Over time, I’ve learned how to balance technology in my life. I’m still not perfect, but I’m working on it. So, if you’re struggling with the whole “unplugging thing”, here are a few things to consider:
Unplugging is going to look different for each of us. For some employees, unplugging means not being connected at night. For others, it means the weekend. It’s important for us to respect an employee’s “unplug time” even if it’s not the same as ours.
Communicate when you will be unplugged. If your unplug time is Friday date night or Sunday mornings with the kids, let others know so they won’t expect to hear from you. Maybe it’s me, but I think part of the stress associated with tech is that we feel compelled to answer things right away.
Don’t feel guilty about unplugging. This is easier said that done. But the key to getting employees to truly take a technology break and receiving the benefits of unplugging is not feeling guilty about doing it. We need to practice guilt-free unplug time. In fact, maybe we need to share with employees how nice spending time unplugged felt.
The business world moves very fast. I remember in my first HR job, my boss telling me “The work will still be there tomorrow. Don’t worry about it.” That doesn’t mean we didn’t stay late or come in over the weekend. Her point was that we would be better if we took time for ourselves. That means finding time to unplug from our devices.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Las Vegas, NV14