Technology has connected us together faster than ever before and whilst that technology has it’s advantages, there is also a darker side which is leading to people having less meaningful relationships and significantly impacts on our productivity. We tap our phones 2600 times a day, that is not just a lot of taps, it can also be seen as an element of control which can have a negative impact upon our mental health.
Loneliness is an epidemic so how can we get the balance right?
With a constant need to feel virtually connected, we need to have breaks to fully appreciate what we have and to just be present in the moment, this is not new, nor is it news to you reading this, so then why do we continue to be addicted and just keep wanting more?
This is very much an issue in our workplaces, people constantly check their emails regardless of if they are on or off duty, this significantly impacts upon productivity. Daimler in Germany automatically delete emails sent to employees who are on annual leave, and it is strictly forbidden to email a colleague if they are on leave; which I think is a fantastic idea! This allows employees to truly switch off and take adequate rest to help them perform at their best.
In his talk, Dan highlighted that remote workers, not likely to stay with the company long term as they don’t feel part of the organisations they work for. This is something that I can relate to, at my company, we can work from home should we need to, but none of us do, the reason for this is that one, we will probably empty the contents of our fridges but secondly (and most importantly), we feel better when we are part of our team and working together.
The future is also looking very different, during his talk, Dan advised that for the first time in a survey, today’s teenagers are the first group to choose texting over face to face interactions, this is a concern as this will soon become a workplace problem and from my own experiences, I can confirm that this is already starting to emerge. Because we spend so much time at work, and by working as much as we do, employees connect and create work “friends” instead of colleagues. By forming these relationships, it creates a level of importance which is great when things are going well, but when they are not, it can also cause conflict which will have implications for employers.
When we have a bad day at work; it impacts your life, you may have a disagreement at work that you then take home to your partner and family. We are starting to see positive changes here in the UK, we are slowly but surely embracing flexible working, we are embracing diversity and including people that traditionally and sadly felt excluded such as working parents.
Focus on your own fulfilment before anyone else’s, if you’re unhappy, it has an impact on everyone else. I strongly believe that negativity only attracts more negativity; this quote from Dan is a strong contender for the quote of CIPD ACE this year; people need to have purpose and that feeling of belonging; this is not just personally, this is also important professionally.
For employers, this means that it is important for leaders to allow people to be their true selves at work, demonstrating a caring and empathetic approach can support a positive company culture; by adapting a transformational and collaborative approach, employers can allow a positive environment and more productive to emerge.
There are positive ways to use technology to encourage human interaction; it is not something I openly talk about, but I even met my husband on Twitter! You even see people arranging parties on social media so when used responsibly, technology can play its part in bringing people together.
The take-away point from his session for me; work needs to integrate with our lives; we work to live, not live to work and balance is key to happiness.