Many of us take the idea of instant access a bit too far. We all know (or may be) that person who is constantly checking email and jumping at every bing and buzz of instant messaging or text notifications. Some going so far as keeping their phone on the nightstand or giving their device a place at the dinner table right next to their fork.
The downside of never-ending connection is the stress and distraction it generates, not only for the person who is constantly connected but for those around him or her as well. Energy is sapped, focus is splintered, relationships are impaired, and burnout can result. A great article on Forbes.com shares more about the perils of needing to be constantly connected. The writer explains that it’s all about telepressure – “the itch to respond to electronic communication as fast as you can, so that you appear responsive and connected.”
To overcome this pressure, which leads to stress and burnout, several suggestions are outlined in the article to help employees better manage electronic communication and to offer ways that employers can create less telepressured work environments. As a leader, you play a huge role in keeping your team members from feeling the need to be available 24/7. Consider the following:
- Commit to a reasonable end time and start time to sending emails to your team. You can write an email and hold it in drafts until the morning rather than sending it at 12 midnight. This way your employees will not get the perceived message that you are expecting them to respond and send emails at midnight also.
- Champion positive practices of device-free meetings and being fully present in one-on-one conversations. Come from behind your desk when meeting one-on-one so that you are not tempted by flashing email notices and IM alerts. Declare meetings “unplugged zones” and, when the laptops pop open as your next meeting starts, challenge it. While some meetings do require that participants have access to electronic files and working documents, many do not.
- Become more aware of your own cell phone use and propensity to constantly check email. There’s a free app called Checky that tracks how often you unlock your phone to check text messages, emails, etc. Download it or other similar apps to find out your patterns, and then share what you learned with your team. You can help others break their bad cell phone habits along with you by making it a team endeavor or goal.
- Share best practices for email management and organization. Consider bringing in a guest speaker to share tips and answer questions, and then commit to new teamwide practices to improve productivity and reduce telepressure and stress.
- Declare email-free weekends (or Fridays). Give your employees (and yourself) the gift of at least weekend day without work pressure and email notifications. And push it one step further and declare “email-free Fridays” and force your team members to actually speak to each other instead of shooting off electronic communications. This goes a long way in increasing a sense of control, well-being, and balance for your team, as well as building stronger relationships between team members.
What are other ways you are leading the charge to make telepressure a thing of the past in your workplace?
Let us know.
If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
For help in developing more positive and effective team environments, contact Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I track my screen time, which helps to make me more aware of just how much time I am using my iPhone. I know I am distracted by it quite a bit so tracking screen times brings me to awareness and sometimes shock and promotes better practices. At home we now have a new rule, zero cell use during all meal times.
Thank you Cheryl. I also like the “no devices at the table” rule. It sounds like you’re working well to be more and more present.