We are often singing the praises of the web and the digital age here at Rhizome Live. (Pretty much all of our blog posts are on this theme!) Used well, it opens up a whole new world of communication, collaboration and education.
But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Just last week Twitter’s European Vice-President Bruce Daisley has released a new book on the problems for businesses and employees of the always on, always connected world. And he is just the latest in a long line of reports and warnings about the potential problems of the digital age.
When interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this week, Daisley identified the movement of email onto mobile phones as a watershed moment. He cited that workers suddenly started working an extra 2 hours a day. But this extra time didn’t correlate with better outcomes. Instead, these two additional hours ‘at work’ result in a drop in productivity.
To get the most from your employees at work, you need to make sure they go home. Today, that means mentally changing gears as much as physically changing locations. Turning off the work phone, and shutting down the computer. It is all too easy to be dragged back to that late night email that will ‘only take a minute’.
And, day after day, this means that your workers aren’t relaxing and recharging. They aren’t coming into work (or logging on) fresh and ready to work, because they never really left the day before. Stress, fatigue and pressure all build up. Burnout threatens. Your employees are working longer and longer, but achieving less and less.
Anytime, anywhere access to work materials can be a boon. Think remote working, flexible schedules and responsive teams. The challenge is to prevent anytime, anywhere becoming all the time, everywhere. We all need time off, away from work and away from screens. Time to relax and unwind with others, or just recharge with a book or hobby.
Just because we can be on all the time, doesn’t mean we should be. However you integrate the digital into the workplace, it should always be a tool and not a dictator.