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Digital Wellness

Using Technology To Support Employee Mental Health And Resilience

Virtual Reality

With digital technologies, the distractions that come with them are seemingly unavoidable.

The transition to remote and hybrid ways of working have forced employees to find novel ways to manage the competing demands of personal and work-related tools such as email, video calls, social media, messaging apps and collaboration tools like Slack. Instead of creating an environment where people can focus on their work, remote digitised workplaces encourage continuous engagement and attention from digital users.

However, as customers become increasingly connected and expect immediate feedback, this, in turn, leads businesses to invest heavily in digital technologies that support employees by improving collaboration, connectivity and productivity. However, by using digital technologies, that encourage extended periods of attention and engagement, the new digital workplace creates a culture where employees engage constantly with digital information throughout the day.

Today’s close relationship with digital devices even causes some employees to experience emotional and mental challenges as a result of experiencing overwhelm by digital distractions and the psychological consequences of spending multiple hours per day on digital platforms. In fact, recent research shows that prolonged video calling is highly intense and fatiguing.

While this is one study, when extrapolated to a global digital workforce numbering in the billions of employees, there is a potentially significant impact on an individual and global productivity, and health.

Technology Vendors Influence the Future of Digital Productivity.

As the creators of new digital artefacts, technology vendors are increasingly prioritising digital wellbeing in addition to productivity and engagement. Products that have been integrated into the architecture of some of the most commonly used products in the world offer resources that can help us to focus, reduce digital distraction and support positive digitised experiences driven by company and individual values. The same attention to digital wellbeing in remote and hybrid environments should be taken by people responsible for digital environments in the office and at home as the way our environments are constructed has a direct effect on our health and performance.

Vendors are quickly realising that taking digital wellbeing seriously can yield powerful and detailed insights on ways to help employees do their best work. Such insight provides people and institutions alike with information on what constitutes a positive and productive work experience for specific teams – all of which helps current and future employees.

How Individual Employees Control Their Digital Wellbeing

In addition to digital products affecting human wellbeing, employees are finding novel and creative ways to balance competing digital demands whilst protecting their own wellbeing. These behavioural frameworks and tools help employees to exert more autonomy over their day-to-day digitised experience and do much to create positive digitised environments.

Employees who take a strong interest in digital wellbeing:

  • Create time for deep work; protecting your time and energy by limiting digital distractions and staying present in the moment (e.g., managing notifications, excluding digital distraction from specific places like bedrooms at night and blocking time for focus)
  • Balance digital engagement with time for offline connection: ensuring that intense periods of screen time are balanced with physical activity and face-to-face interactions (e.g., get outdoors for fresh air, exercise) are key to a healthful digitised environment.

Digital Wellness Resources Are Increasingly Important to Employees

As digital wellness becomes an increasing focus amongst employees and employers alike, resources – like mindfulness apps and wearables to help improve focus and productivity while reducing cognitive load and fatigue — are becoming increasingly important.

In 2021, studies showed that working from home during the pandemic had coincided with a sharp increase in the consumption of digital wellness tools to support people’s mental and physical health. Although there are more products than ever focused on digital wellbeing, such as Google’s Digital Wellbeing Portal, Apple with ScreenTime, LinkedIn Learning Courses for digital resilience training or Facebook’s Time Well Spent features, 2022 promises to be an extremely active year for the digital wellbeing ecosystem.

Employees are actively adopting digital wellbeing tools to support their productivity, mental health, and fitness journeys. Employees are increasingly prioritising the experience of work in addition to their performance at work, and in many cases look to technology to support that journey.

Building a technology environment that encourages focus and digital resilience

As digital technologies become an integral part of almost every aspect of work life, understanding the effect that digital overload has on employees’ mental health and digital wellbeing is key to creating a positive digital workplace culture. Solving this problem could mean not only improving the digital workplace but also improving employees’ overall mental health.

We know that digital productivity is important to business success. And we want digital workplaces to help improve employee digital engagement and digital productivity. But it should not come at the expense of their digital well-being written about how employers can also use digital workplace tools to measure an employee’s mental health and digital resilience, including digital stress levels

Digital wellbeing tools and services can help employers identify the everyday activities that most likely impact productivity, human wellbeing and overall decrease the positive experience of work. Taking measures like offering a suite of digital wellbeing tools and services can offer employees the potential to identify gaps in personal digital well-being and how they affect an individual’s overall mental health

How the Metaverse Supports Employee Wellbeing in Addition to Maximizing Productivity

In the last 18 months, virtual reality has increased in prominence as a valuable tool to enhance presence during remote meetings, while also reducing the digital stress experienced by those working for long periods on video calls, and even as a medical-grade therapeutic. By immersing employees within digital experiences or allowing people to train for specific tasks without stepping into the shoes of their workers as virtual avatars. This immersion into digital experiences with VR reduces the mental strain caused by the management of multiple information inputs.

Technology designed to minimise the impact of digital overload can help employees by decreasing ambient distractions and placing people directly into virtual environments to complete specific tasks. Similarly, with Augmented Reality, overlaying digital information with real-world environments decreases the cognitive load associated with the continual switching of attention between devices.

It is clear that with greater immersion in the experience of work, there will be greater opportunities for employers to capture even more granular insight on employee performance and behaviours. Far away from the traditional employee satisfaction surveys, the metaverse will lend itself to personalised work experiences optimised for greater productivity, collaboration or specific targets demanded by the company.

Shaping The Future

The trend towards greater adoption of digital wellbeing tools will continue strongly into 2022. Employers and employees alike would do well to utilise the growing ecosystem of digital resources designed to increase focus, reduce digital distraction and directly enhance human wellbeing. Intentionally creating and recreating personal and professional digital environments that encourage focus and resilience will result in improved digital well-being, digital engagement and digital productivity.