FAST AND SLOW
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything
“The pendulum is swinging back”, and people will want to switch off: “the phone is an amazing tool, but we own our devices, they don’t own us.”
-RANDI ZUCKERBERG, FORMER FACEBOOK CMO
In our ultra-fast, data saturated society, time is becoming the ultimate luxury for many including when we’re at work. Recent research on Internet addiction shows it to be a recognized psychological problem.
Constant digital distractions can take a toll on the mind, and many people actually never take a real break from their work, the media and their devices.
The «Always On» work culture is increasingly being criticized. Some countries, such as France, have already included it in their labour codes.
Unsurprisingly, applications are emerging to help us to limit the time spent on other applications on our devices. For example, Google has just launched three new applications: Envelope, Activity Bubbles and Screen Stopwatch for this purpose. The renewed popularity of «Dumb Phones» reflects a tendency to give up technology to better preserve it.
Finding ways to re-connect with yourself and take a break from all the data is also becoming more popular. Meditation apps are exploding: in 2019 the top 10 highest-grossing meditation apps generated $195m in revenues: a 52% year on year increase.
15% of workers in the UK are constantly monitoring business emails outside working hours.
(source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
47% of hiring managers are more likely to engage independent talent in the future due to COVID-19 (source : Upwork Future workplace report 2020, US)
90% of Millennials surveyed worldwide check their smartphone before getting dressed, eating, brushing their teeth or even getting up. (source: Cisco Connected World 2012)
The emerging ‘Slow Working’ movement focuses on quality and focus rather than speed of turnaround and multi-tasking, with time spent on doing essential work properly in a shorter time rather than maximizing time at work. Startups and countries are promoting the 4 day week. Microsoft experimented with a 4-day workweek in its Japanese subsidiary in summer 2019 and productivity jumped by 40%.
Tim Ferris’s beststeller ‘The 4 hour week’ has sold more than 2m copies, and is a reference in the startup community, provides a range of productivity hacks to explain how to escape the 9-5 work week.
One positive aspect of the Covid crisis is the overall gain in productivity thanks to a decrease in workplace-related distractions. This has led to further questions about the need to work long hours. In a survey done by ADECCO after the Covid crisis, 69% of employees agree that that their
contracts should be based on meeting the needs of the business rather than on the hours they work.
OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES
Cut the digital cord and feel free
Even if the notion of a ‘digital detox’ can remain something of a fantasy, there is clearly a growing desire to reduce dependency on digital devices. This creates opportunities for organizations that want to help their own employees or their client’s employees consciously to take back control of their device usage and create device / content free moments. As well as gains in ‘productivity’ linked to reduced time wastage, there are multiple health and wellness gains to be add from reducing time spent on screens from increased ability to concentrate and carry out tasks efficiently, to greater empathy and connection with the external, physical world.
4 in 5
90% of Millennials surveyed
worldwide check their smartphone
before getting dressed,
eating, brushing their teeth or
even getting up. (source: Cisco
Connected World 2012)
Americans spend an average of
1 hour of their working time on
social networks, and «millennials
» spend 1.8 hours (source: US
chamber foundation, the millennial
Going beyond technological solutions to reduce our digital dependency implies organisations making a stronger commitment to restoring, reinforcing and enriching human interactions on a daily basis. This is driven by the rules, rituals and processes of how people in an organization talk, meet and do things together. Even if HR can get involved it is very much the domain of management. It is linked to a desire to identify certain moments where screens must be set aside in favour of human contact and in order for the vital connections amongst employees and external stakeholders to flourish.
Any organization that could play a part in helping to choose and support these ‘human moments’ would certainly generate value particularly in a world where human contact is arguably becoming rarer and more precious.
SO WHAT FOR LYRECO ?
1. How can Lyreco help our employees to focus and create value by having a better quality of
2. Are there any tools or techniques that Lyreco should be encouraging to help our own employees to reduce their digital dependency? Are there any opportunities to sell services / products that help
to reduce dependency?
3. How can Lyreco enhance the importance of human moments internally and between our employees and our customers? Are there any digital moments that should be humanised or vice versa to free up time for human connections?
4. How might this be adapted to the constraints of different cultures of work?
5. How can we take advantage of the booming market for productivity tools and services?