The Power of Switching Off From Work

The modern working world has been driven by rapid advancement in technological growth. Over the years the way we communicate in this digital world has transformed working behaviours, compelling employees to be plugged in 24/7 which has direct correlation with stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Switching off from work means finding ways to stop thinking about work-related tasks or activities outside of your normal working hours. Our working lives are often so mentally and emotionally consuming that we have a tendency to stay in ‘go’ mode all day even after the work day has ended. Many employees are finding it difficult to prioritise their work life balance on top of their workload and responsibilities, making switching off from work a harder challenge.

The Reality of Switching Off From Work

Recent research shows almost half of UK employees demand flexibility (47%) with over 40% of employees regularly working overtime, according to data from HR and payroll specialist, SD Worx. Findings show that many people are looking for freedom to organise their lives and work the best way they see fit, and for clear cut points between working hours and personal time.

Studies show that 34% admitted to continuing work after the workday has ended, with 35% who said they had difficulty letting go of work commitments when on leave. Life routines, career and related commitments often makes us feel like there is no room or time for anything else. And when we do try and enjoy some downtime and fun, we often feel guilty or distracted and our minds quickly wander back to the working world. Given that we live in a switched-on digital age, it has become harder than ever for us to physically and mentally switch off.

The overuse of digital devices has been linked to burnout, insomnia, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health, states we are facing an “email epidemic”. Research from the Chartered Management Institute has proven that employees unwittingly cancelled out their entire annual leave by checking emails outside of work. One study showed that 70% of professional emails are read within six seconds. Reading emails disrupt working patterns, but many people try to make sure that are emails they receive are marked as ‘read’, to avoid a slowly increasing pile of communications that need to be addressed.

Contrary to the widespread belief that overtime this will result in the surge in productivity, studies reveal that long working hours will lead to loss of efficiency or exhaustion and ultimately will reduce overall productivity. Research equally reveals that people who work by availing short breaks are comparatively more productive, than those who work long hours tirelessly without any rest in between. Switching off from work is crucial for every employee and can result in challenges both for employees as well as the organisation. By providing the required support and help in the form of employee-centric policies and work life programmes, an organisation will be able to reap the benefits of improved employee productivity, reduction in the turnover rate and achieve various cost savings.

The Balance Between Switching Off From Work and Work Life

When you find your own way of switching off from work, you’re giving your mind and body the chance to recover and recuperate. Setting and adding boundaries for yourself once your workday is over allows you to unplug and enjoy your downtime. You can do that by logging out of all work-related platforms at the end of the day or even removing the communication apps and email applications from your phone. If your workdays involve prolonged screen use, taking some time away from your phone, tablet and TV in the evening naturally helps create a divide between these two aspects of your life. 22% of workers who use work-related apps like Slack or Teams check their notifications every hour whilst not at work. If possible, prohibit any work-related notifications until your next workday, so you’re not tempted to read them as soon as they appear on your phone.

Remote working has many benefits, one of them being that telecommuting impresses both employers and employees from a work/life alignment perspective. However, there are some challenges associated with remote working including an increased risk of employee burnout, with many people struggling to unplug after work. If you are working in a hybrid role you can start to associate your bedroom as your work office, making getting to sleep a lot more challenging. It is important to have a room that you can work from that is separated, allowing you to have a space to relax and unwind. It can also be useful to change your scenery from time to time, this can be done by simply going for a walk in nature or working in your local café.

Switching off from work mode is crucial because it gives us an opportunity to focus on the things that genuinely make us happy. Taking the time to focus your energy on things other than work can provide you with the balance and clarity that truly puts life into perspective. As long as you show commitment to your work during your working hours, you have every right to enjoy your free time without any guilt. Unplugging is the key to come back happier, stronger, and healthier the next day.

How Wellity Can Support You

A Wellity workplace wellbeing training title “Disrupting Digital Burnout” will help attendees get their sense of work life balance back, redefining their priorities and exploring ways to mentally and digitally switch off, particularly in a hybrid world.

Objectives:

  • Establish the psychological impact of being switched on 24/7
  • Explore the role of boundaries, non-negotiables, and limits
  • Discover how to practically switch off when working in a remote/hybrid role
  • Understand ways to unplug mentally and digitally

For more information on other training titles we offer surrounding this topic, contact our team at hello@wellityglobal.com.

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