I’ve been reading a great book recently called “The Joy of Work – 30 Ways to Fix Your Work Culture and Fall in Love with Your Job Again” by Twitter UK’s boss Bruce Daisley. It’s a practical guide to help workers avoid digital distraction, restore the balance in their work life and realise that it doesn’t need to be a stress filled 24/7 engagement.

Stress caused by things such as always on work communications leading to jeweller Goldsmiths estimating that four million Brits use their phone for work on their wedding day. What a way to start married life!

How did we get here?

I met Daisley at his book launch and he told an interesting story about how we had welcomed the constant email intrusions into our home life through the back door one BlackBerry at a time. For those that don’t remember the BlackBerry it was a mobile phone with an inbuilt keyboard that allowed you to receive your work email any time, any place.

Daisley said that to begin with BlackBerrys were a scarce thing with only the upper echelons being granted access. Then “John” in your department got one and people would gather round to take a look at the electronic marvel and find out just how “John” had managed to obtain his. What words had he used to persuade IT that he needed one so they could replicate this feat. And so it was that we welcomed this device into our lives and without really thinking about it lo and behold we were checking our emails at home in the evenings and weekends.

The working day was increased from an average of seven to nine hours a day at a single stroke for no additional reward or compensation.

What is the impact?

Checking our emails outside of working hours has become the norm because we feel that there is an expectation. That late night email from our client or boss just has to be answered then and there.

This expectation, even if it is only in our own minds, often leads to a feeling of stress and anxiety but can also have an impact on others around us too. Research carried out by Virginia Tech found that this extending of work into home life can also have a direct impact on our families.

“The competing demands of work and non-work lives present a dilemma for employees, which triggers feelings of anxiety and endangers work and personal lives.

Our research exposes the reality, [that] ‘flexible work boundaries’ often turn into ‘work without boundaries,’ compromising an employee’s and their family’s health and well-being.”

William Becker, Virginia Tech

What can we do to ease the pressure?

Here are some ideas that you might like to consider to get your life back from the tyranny of your work supplied devices:

  • Commit to a complete day free of work interruptions every week
  • Turn off notifications from social media and email apps on your mobile and desktops
  • Take a break away from the desk completely (a 2015 BUPA survey found that 2/3rds of Brits didn’t feel that they could even have a 20 minute lunch break)

Read some more ideas from National Unplugging Day supremo Gemma Johnson when she wrote for us about the pathway to productivity through avoiding digital distraction.

Ultimately it is up to us as individuals to be willing to make the change and recognise that doing so doesn’t mean getting less done but could well lead to a better quality of life and achieving more.

With the holiday season upon us, making sure that your out of office message has all the detail on it you need is essential for communicating to your team and customers. For a quick and easy reference guide, see our Out of Office Checklist infographic

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