Part 2: Avoiding digital disengagement in early careers and the first 90 days in role

In Part 1, we reflected on the key messages from the recent Cappfinity breakfast event where Alex La Via, digital wellbeing consultant at Live More Offline, shared the challenges of remote working that may lead to digital disengagement, who was most impacted and why, along with the opportunities that creating a healthy digital culture presents for wellbeing, performance and human connection in digital work.

In Part 2 we share the key themes from this session on how teams and individuals can address the challenges to create a healthy relationship with the digital world.

How can we address the challenges?

Alex outlined her Three Pillars of a Healthy Digital Culture® and explained how the opportunities reach further than wellbeing alone.

Pillar 1: Digital Productivity

Whether working from home increases or decreases productivity, has been hotly discussed in various articles and media reports, but as yet there are no conclusive answers.  What is known is that distractions can play a big part in harming our remote working productivity.

Contrary to popular opinion, the human brain cannot multitask, so feeling the need to read an email as soon as it arrives or replying to a Teams message the moment the notification comes through, is harming our productivity.  In fact, research has shown that it can take 23 minutes for us to get back to the same task with the same level of focus if we’re distracted part-way through.

Layering many small intentional changes is key. A few examples include championing focus time and implementing guidance on response times.  Most emails throughout the working day will not require an immediate response, so make it clear that one is not expected.  Phone calls should be used for anything that is urgent.

Alex shared the impact that she saw within one organisation who found productivity challenged by the constant Slack messages after moving to remote working. In their digital wellbeing workshops, they collaboratively decided to put in place a simple rule that no Slack message needed a response within two hours. The team reported back a reduction in stress, increase in ability to focus and increased enjoyment of their work.

Meetings are another area which can reinvented, circulate a document ahead of time for everyone to add their own contributions to and make the meetings shorter.  The first five to ten minutes should be spent reviewing the document and then addressing any actions from that.  This is also a much more inclusive approach because anyone who has difficulty speaking up in meetings, will still be able to have input.

Pillar 2: Digital Wellbeing

This is a big one and one that if ignored, can result in the loss of talent from an organisation.  Young Millennials and Generation Z actively look for organisations with ethical leadership, that care about employees’ wellbeing and are diverse and inclusive for all.

Early career professionals will carry any experiences they have now with them throughout their life, so creating a culture where they feel valued and supported is crucial. With right to disconnect legislation being introduced in more countries, demonstrating an intentional approach away from always-on working is vital.

Our digital communications activate our body’s fight or flight mode.  Constant low-level activation is unhealthy, particularly if there is no escape due to the demands of working digitally.

Employers and leaders within organisations can set the tone for change here, by modelling healthy digital behaviour for their employees and those leaders also need support in how to lead in a digital environment.

Start by agreeing a standard for email etiquette, by only sending emails within working hours, consider using a delayed sending tool and use subject headings that are clear about the contents of the message.  Be clear as well about the need to only respond within the employees’ working hours.

Pillar 3: Virtual Connection

Setting focus time and managing meetings better is great for improving productivity, but it doesn’t mean that there should be no opportunity for human connection in the virtual world.

Research from international market research company, Kadence suggests that younger workers feel the impact of remote isolation more, with 81% of them saying they would feel more isolated without time in the office, compared to 64% of those aged 35 and over.

There are some simple things that everyone can actively do to weave more human connection into remote working days.  Consider the natural interaction that would happen in the office before and after meetings, the water cooler moments and the corridor conversations.  This can be recreated by deciding to open meetings ten minutes early for those who want to chat before to break up the working day.

When adopting a hybrid approach, consider assigning a ‘room buddy’ to anyone who cannot physically be in the room.  This will ensure those who are working remotely still have their points heard by having their room buddy speak up for them when needed.

Final thoughts

What is clear is that a thoughtful approach to hybrid working is paramount for attracting and retaining diverse talent, particularly amongst younger generations.  By taking the steps to encourage digital productivity through mindfulness around meeting length and interruptions; wellbeing by keeping the needs of the recipient in mind when sending emails, and the need to continue to instil a connection between individuals and teams whilst working away from the office, organisations can encourage healthy digital habits which in turn will enable healthy high performance that is sustainable for all employees. The tips mentioned in this blog are a great starting point. To take this further, you can explore Live More Offline’s awareness webinars and higher-impact leadership training across the Three Pillars of a Healthy Digital Culture ® on their website.

To find out about Cappfinity’s solutions for early careers onboarding in the virtual and hybrid world, please visit our onboarding product page.