How to Encourage Employee Digital Detox - An Analog Choice to Help Clear Thoughts and Refresh the Mind


With many of us having been working from home since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining a healthy work-life balance has been more difficult than ever before. Working from home naturally blurs the lines between our work lives and our personal lives, often leading to employees doing things like checking emails after hours, starting work early and staying late, and having a much tougher time “disconnecting” from it all.

Mobile devices and computers are more easily accessible than ever before and playing increasingly important roles in our lives, making it extremely difficult to avoid checking and responding to emails or getting a few minutes of work done here and there during your time off. While the intentions are good, this is a bad habit to get into and can lead to stress, a decrease in workplace satisfaction, and even burnout.

If you or your employees have been experiencing difficulty maintaining a proper work-life balance throughout the pandemic, it might be time to try a digital detox. A digital detox is a great way to get away from “always-on” culture, allowing you and your employees to clear your thoughts and refresh your minds. 

Worry not, the word “detox” doesn’t have to be intimidating - it’s more about encouraging employees to create boundaries and practice mindfulness than it is about having them disconnect for extended periods of time. The benefits of doing so can mean happier, healthier employees who will be much better prepared to perform their job responsibilities successfully. 

Setting boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance

A digital detox is largely about creating and maintaining boundaries so employees can maintain a proper work-life balance. This means doing things like promoting less screen time and encouraging your employees to take short breaks away from their phone and computer during the working day.

Things like going for a walk, taking a short drive, exercising, or anything else that gets employees away from a screen for a short time have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health, working to reduce stress and ensuring that a few minutes per day are spent with minimal distractions or external stimuli. Even just turning off the screen and relaxing for a few minutes at a time counts as a brief digital detox, and does a great deal to maintain mental health.

During this time, boundaries will need to be set. That could mean not carrying your phone with you when you’re away from the computer, going old school and using a pen and paper approach to working and planning, or even just reducing the amount of times you refresh your inbox. Not only will this allow employees to have a moment to breathe and refresh their minds, but it’ll also work as a way to improve work-life balance during off hours.

This will naturally be difficult for many employees, but it’s something that will benefit the workforce and the organization as a whole, and as such should be reinforced constantly by management to keep everybody happy and healthy. Getting away from your phone and computer has been shown to promote more restful sleep, as it reduces blue light exposure, and can go a long way in maintaining better posture and alleviating back and neck pain.

Create and stick to strict working hours

A digital detox doesn’t mean anything if your employees only practice during working hours - it’s something that needs to be strictly adhered to during off hours. The best way to do this is to promote strict working hours where employees are available, and hours where they will no longer be reachable. You should encourage employees to limit their use of devices during these off hours, ensure that they set off hours on their work calendars to avoid being invited to meetings and conference calls, and turn off notifications for incoming work emails.

Encouraging that your employees unplug from work during their time off can lead to a much healthier work-life balance, ensuring that they can focus their time and energy on personal connections and hobbies. It also means that they’ll be happier with their career, more productive during work hours, more likely to get good quality sleep, less stressed by the non-stop onslaught of emails, meetings, and calls, and even more creative. While it can be difficult, helping your employees let go during their off hours is imperative for the future of your workforce, especially if remote work is going to be a continuing trend even after the pandemic subsides.

Practice mindfulness to refresh your mind

Since physically getting away from a screen can be difficult during the wintertime, practicing mindfulness is an excellent way to get some much needed digital detox time in during your day. Encouraging employees to download apps like Calm, Headspace, buddhify and others can make practicing mindfulness much easier, offering useful meditation and mindfulness activities that range from beginner to experienced difficulties.

These apps will allow your employees to get away for short periods of time, with most activities ranging from between just 3 minutes to up to 30 minutes, even offering short mindfulness reminders throughout the day. Practicing mindfulness can help employees reduce stress and anxiety, allowing them to focus on the present without dwelling on stressors like unanswered emails, deadlines, and upcoming presentations. They take up very little time, and have been shown again and again to be extremely useful for promoting a happier, healthier workforce.

While the idea of a digital detox might seem counterproductive to business owners, it actually goes a long way to improve your employee’s work-life balance, reduce stress, and improve productivity and creativity in the workplace. By simply getting away from the screen, keeping strict working hours, and practicing mindfulness, your employees can be happier and healthier, and your business will benefit from it.

It can be difficult to know when your employees are working and how they’re dealing with stress and anxiety. For business owners seeking increased visibility into how their employees are working, Prodoscore offers unparalleled business insights. Prodoscore measures your employee’s activity within common business applications, assigning each with a unique productivity score that allows you to see how productively they’re working, whether their performance is being affected by stress, and how they’re making use of cloud-based tools, letting you focus on improving employee performance, decreasing stress, and improving employee retention.