March 30, 2022, by Leah Sharpe
Maintaining Your Wellbeing in the Digital Workplace
By Hannah Woolley, Careers and Employability Consultant
Workplaces are increasingly digital. Whether you’re doing an internship or placement or have recently moved into a graduate job, digital workplace practices are likely to be a big part of your experience.
With this in mind, it makes sense to give some thought to what this means for your wellbeing, how you can maximise the benefits of this way of working, and minimise any potential challenges.
Finding a balance between doing and thinking
Ping! An auto-generated ‘daily briefing’ highlighting today’s activities drops into your inbox. Ping! A notification that someone’s started your next virtual meeting and is waiting pops up. Ping! A reminder that you have several priority tasks ‘queued for completion’ appears.
Are these helpful nudges or nagging demands? It probably depends on how many you receive, your capacity to act on them, and the sort of day you’re having.
Digital tools can help you to progress tasks quickly and ticking things off the list can help you to feel productive and offer a sense of achievement. But sometimes, too much digital noise can feel overwhelming. It can tip you into a state of hyper-multitasking-busyness that becomes exhausting and leaves little headspace for the sort of deeper thinking and reflection that offers intellectual reward or a connection to the values that fuel your motivation at work.
If this sounds familiar, auditing your digital efficiency tools to assess their impact on your wellbeing might help. Think carefully about what helps and hinders. Then, customise settings to suit your preferences. Perhaps change the frequency of reminders or silence notifications for uninterrupted focus time.
Getting to know your colleagues and feeling part of a workplace community can offer important wellbeing benefits, particularly when you first start work.
Building in regular interaction is likely to help, and the digital workplace offers lots of ways to connect with colleagues, so it’s worth exploring a few tools to see what works best for you in your new professional setting. Experiment with chat or instant message options to build rapport, forums or channels to share information, online collaboration spaces to exchange ideas, and video calls for in-depth discussion.
And whatever methods you use, try to maximise the benefits by actively participating. This is likely to offer a richer experience and help you to feel more connected to both the people involved and the current agenda.
Of course, you could also try taking things offline. Simply being around colleagues and having casual conversations can help to build relationships and boost a sense of togetherness. Plus, those ‘water cooler’ moments often provide the best insight and light-hearted amusement! And when it comes to meetings, rather than defaulting to online, maybe try a face-to-face or walking-talking option.
Instant, anywhere, anytime access to the digital workplace can offer convenient flexibility. You can stay connected wherever you are, at whatever time it is.
This can be helpful and has obvious practical benefits, and it may allow you to flex your schedule so that you can fit in activities that will enhance your wellbeing, but it also has the potential to blur the line between your professional and personal time.
This might leave you struggling to ‘switch off’ and unable to fully enjoy your downtime. To counteract this, experiment with taking a more mindful approach to the way you use technology
Start by consciously questioning any digital habits that have crept in, like logging on after hours or checking your inbox on your day off. Ask yourself: Is this necessary or expected? Sometimes you might decide to go ahead, but other times you might decide that it can wait and give yourself permission to power down. Either way, you’re likely to feel more in control. Plus, it will allow you to identify any less helpful actions that have become semi-automatic and that over-extend ‘work time’.
Then, give some thought to how you might replace these with other, more positive digital approaches that will help you to set and maintain boundaries. Discuss these with your manager, a mentor, or colleagues to share ideas that will work for you and your team.
The Careers team can help you to clarify your own career wellbeing priorities and work through any concerns you have about navigating the digital workplace.
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