Let’s face it, if you or a member of your team uses a computer screen as part of their job, then digital wellness is an important aspect of employee wellness that cannot be overlooked.
The global business landscape in 2020 has changed greatly as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us all from our shared offices and working spaces to the confines of our remote offices (aka home). As a result, we’re all spending more collective time in front of digital devices than ever before.
Because of remote requirements, employees spend the majority of their day on electronic devices between work, social media, and staying connected to friends and family after the work day. Being online all the time takes a toll mentally and physically, manifesting in neck pain from bending to look at a device, eye strain from blue light on screens, or feeling unproductive and distracted. The mind and body need breaks and wellness practices to reset and stay motivated to complete projects.
It’s no surprise, then, that businesses, corporations, institutions and governments are making Digital Wellness Day 2020 an event to remember with plenty of resources to support teams and companies to work to improve our usage and perception of what "digital wellness" means together.
I hope you are able to take the time to observe Digital Wellness Day and encourage employees to practice the recommendations to make the most of their time online, stay less stressed, and be productive.
With help from the Digital Wellness Collective, here are 6 ways to practice digital wellness for all:
1. Take Frequent Breaks
Throughout the day, be sure to get up, move around, and look at something that isn’t a screen for 5 to 10 minutes at a time every 1-2 hours. This prevents muscle pain from remaining seated or looking down at devices.
Using blue light glasses is a great help to me and my team, and they help to prevent eye strain and reduce the possibility of headaches. I’ve worn my cat-eye tortoiseshell pair for years now on recommendation from an optometrist, and it’s saved my eye health.
2. Limit Online Distractions
Keep phones out of sight for the majority of the day or set up software that temporarily blocks distracting apps or websites during the work day. Doing so prevents push notifications or nonessential web surfing that might interfere with complete work projects.
As part of our Remote Work Policy, team members report back on their accomplishments throughout the week. Having that touch-point helps deter time-wasters. However, I do find value in the occasional inspirational episode of “SGN” or appropriate GIF to the shared work chat—after all, we’re in this together. Sharing one piece of entertainment to the whole team satisfies the brain’s desire for distraction while keeping the team engaged in professional channels, and can increase morale.
3. Think Before Posting
In order to make the digital space a safer place for everyone, counsel team members to think critically about posts, comments, or photos before posting. Inappropriate posts can negatively impact employees or a brand’s image. Caution employees to consider the risks of posting certain information, like whether it’s completely accurate or not or employees personal contact information. The spread of false information or personal contacts can pose a security risk. Look over posts with critical eye to ensure safety and become a respectable resource.
Be honest with your team about usage of social media. If they have their company included in their social profile, then they are a brand ambassador, and shouldn’t be engaging in harmful, offensive, or sensitive conversations publicly. If a team member has an issue with that, ask them to remove company information from their profile and to customize privacy settings.
4. Create Purpose for Being Online
Mindless scrolling or using the Internet as a distraction leads to a negative association with the digital world when it’s not fulfilling. Set purposes to go online, like “research a project” or “engage with audiences”. Tailor searches to be proactive in professional development like reading about industry best practices or learning a new skill. This helps employees make the most of their time online and feel productive.
We feel best about our work when we feel productive and impactful. But when business shifts, some people often feel winded when their job changes accordingly.
If an employee’s role or responsibilities have shifted since the pandemic hit, it’s understandable they might feel aimless and prone to “scrolling”. I meet with my team once a week to have frank conversations about their pain points. A responsible member of the team will let you know if they have “aimless” time when asked, and will work with you to take those minutes and turn them into projects or research tasks to get back to productivity mode.
5. Engage in Meaningful Interactions
Especially during this time of social distancing, it’s important to leverage technology that connects people all over the world. Join online communities in a specific industry or a group that provides educational resources. Also, take the time to reach out to clients and establish connections that are more human.
This piece is key. Work hours are blending together with personal time, so relationships are changing, too. And that’s okay. Encourage teams to have weekly touch-points and to discuss non-work aspects of their lives, just like they would in the office in the lunch room or on a coffee break. Clients and customers want to be heard and listened to, as well, so leave 5 minutes of any hour-long meeting for “chit chat” or “business therapy”, and everyone will benefit.
6. Set Digital Usage Boundaries
The digital world can be overwhelming and incessant; taking a moment and stepping away for a few minutes allows the brain to reset and get focused to be productive for the rest of the day. It’s hard, but encourage everyone to take the lunch break as a time away from screens. Recognize that space as a time when it’s okay if a team member isn’t glued to a screen, and might take a few minutes to respond.
Remote work burnout is real. The only way we can really combat it during this era of social distancing is to recognize and respect the hours outside of the work day. Encourage physical exercise and non-digital socially-distant interactions (like an old fashioned phone call), and check in on team members about their activities so they feel supported and connected on and off the clock.
Start on May 1, 2020
This year, Digital Wellness Day is May 1, 2020. But I urge you to start the process now and work to incorporate these initiatives into how your company and your team approach holistic wellness for each employee on May 1, 2020 and each day moving forward.