Reconciling quality of life at work and quality of digital life

The theme for the 2022 edition of the Quality of Life at Work Week is " In search of meaning at work" . This is a perfect opportunity to make the link with the quality of digital life, whose omnipresence blurs the boundaries of our professional and personal lives. What is at stake is the health and fulfilment of employees.

Digital and its risks of over-connection

After a long period of teleworking imposed by the Covid-19 health crisis, the use of digital technology away from the workplace has accelerated sharply. The consequence is a lasting installation of physical and mental fatigue.

Because with digital technology, there is a great temptation to stay connected. The danger is even greater for managers, who find themselves at the centre of communication between management and employees. If we are not careful, we risk getting caught up in the spiral of over-connection and hyper-connection.

Over-connection concerns the multiplication of digital tools or communication channels (social networks, video, collaborative platforms, etc.). Hyper-connection refers to the attitude of an employee who remains in constant contact with his employer or colleagues. He or she responds to all requests without distinction, and demands the attention of his or her colleagues without taking into account the latter's personal time.

Managers are affected by this drift, but not only. Some employees do not hesitate to let work spill over into their rest time.

Consequences for the quality of life at work

The consequences for health are deleterious. Over-connection increases the mental load of employees. The problem comes from the numerous interruptions to work (notifications, urgent e-mails, calls, etc.) which impair the quality of concentration. Added to this are the demands for immediate (tacit) responsiveness and information overload (especially e-mails). The result is :

  • Cognitive overload ('FOMO' or feeling of missing out)
  • Reduced productivity and concentration
  • A loss of control over the organisation of one's time

All this increases the imbalance between professional and personal life, considerably degrades the quality of life at work, and increases the psychosocial risk factor. In the most extreme cases, the risk of burn-out is on the horizon.

The challenge of the right to disconnect

The increasing influence of digital technology in the workplace has led to the need for legislation. This is how the The right to disconnect was added to the Labour Code with the law of 8 August 2016. It is part of the mandatory negotiation on the quality of life at work (QWL). It is even a legal obligation for all companies with more than 50 employees.

In concrete terms, the right to disconnect refers to the right to be unreachable outside office hours. This means being disconnected from professional digital tools (mobile phone, e-mail, collaborative platforms, social networks, etc.), after working hours (in the evening), during weekends, holidays and leave.

The legal framework for the right to disconnect is not clearly defined, but an employer who fails to do so is liable to sanctions.

Solutions to improve the digital quality of life

Respecting the right to disconnect has two virtues. It improves the quality of life at work and, in so doing, improves concentration and productivity. It is a discipline, even a lifestyle, that should be imposed on oneself, because everyone benefits from it (employers, managers and employees).

Disconnecting completely from work tools during evenings, weekends and holiday periods is not a lack of entrepreneurship. On the contrary, it is important to separate work time from legitimate rest time, so that you can replenish your strength and return to work in better shape.

To combat the dangers of over- and over-connection, there are simple solutions to put in place:

  • Establish fixed time slots for availability and breaks (and stick to them)
  • Don't hesitate to cut yourself off from the outside world to accomplish tasks that require a high level of concentration (Deep Work)
  • Anticipate departures on leave so as to pass on the baton to the employees present (absence or reorientation messages, etc.).

Re-learning how to delimit and organize one's work time and rest time is a skill soft skill that is acquired over time. Nowadays, this skill is fundamental at all levels of the company, as the deleterious nature of hyper-connection affects concentration and productivity. This is why it is important for managers to be particularly attentive to setting an example in terms of the right to disconnect. They need to learn to reduce immediate interactions and keep external stimuli at bay, especially in open-plan workplaces (which are the norm these days). 

The challenge is to focus attention on one important subject at a time. Finally, the current demands ofmultitasking are a deception, as they insidiously deteriorate the performance of employees, which has an impact on the competitiveness of the company.

To achieve this, it is important to raise awareness internally and to train managers.

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Reconciling quality of life at work and quality of digital life

The use of digital tools has accelerated significantly. How can we reconcile these digital tools with the quality of life at work?
Talent Management
Vincent HOGOMMAT
How to reconcile QWL and the intensive use of digital technology?
Summary:
Like Natixis, involve your talents and create unique trajectories
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The theme for the 2022 edition of the Quality of Life at Work Week is " In search of meaning at work" . This is a perfect opportunity to make the link with the quality of digital life, whose omnipresence blurs the boundaries of our professional and personal lives. What is at stake is the health and fulfilment of employees.

Digital and its risks of over-connection

After a long period of teleworking imposed by the Covid-19 health crisis, the use of digital technology away from the workplace has accelerated sharply. The consequence is a lasting installation of physical and mental fatigue.

Because with digital technology, there is a great temptation to stay connected. The danger is even greater for managers, who find themselves at the centre of communication between management and employees. If we are not careful, we risk getting caught up in the spiral of over-connection and hyper-connection.

Over-connection concerns the multiplication of digital tools or communication channels (social networks, video, collaborative platforms, etc.). Hyper-connection refers to the attitude of an employee who remains in constant contact with his employer or colleagues. He or she responds to all requests without distinction, and demands the attention of his or her colleagues without taking into account the latter's personal time.

Managers are affected by this drift, but not only. Some employees do not hesitate to let work spill over into their rest time.

Consequences for the quality of life at work

The consequences for health are deleterious. Over-connection increases the mental load of employees. The problem comes from the numerous interruptions to work (notifications, urgent e-mails, calls, etc.) which impair the quality of concentration. Added to this are the demands for immediate (tacit) responsiveness and information overload (especially e-mails). The result is :

  • Cognitive overload ('FOMO' or feeling of missing out)
  • Reduced productivity and concentration
  • A loss of control over the organisation of one's time

All this increases the imbalance between professional and personal life, considerably degrades the quality of life at work, and increases the psychosocial risk factor. In the most extreme cases, the risk of burn-out is on the horizon.

The challenge of the right to disconnect

The increasing influence of digital technology in the workplace has led to the need for legislation. This is how the The right to disconnect was added to the Labour Code with the law of 8 August 2016. It is part of the mandatory negotiation on the quality of life at work (QWL). It is even a legal obligation for all companies with more than 50 employees.

In concrete terms, the right to disconnect refers to the right to be unreachable outside office hours. This means being disconnected from professional digital tools (mobile phone, e-mail, collaborative platforms, social networks, etc.), after working hours (in the evening), during weekends, holidays and leave.

The legal framework for the right to disconnect is not clearly defined, but an employer who fails to do so is liable to sanctions.

Solutions to improve the digital quality of life

Respecting the right to disconnect has two virtues. It improves the quality of life at work and, in so doing, improves concentration and productivity. It is a discipline, even a lifestyle, that should be imposed on oneself, because everyone benefits from it (employers, managers and employees).

Disconnecting completely from work tools during evenings, weekends and holiday periods is not a lack of entrepreneurship. On the contrary, it is important to separate work time from legitimate rest time, so that you can replenish your strength and return to work in better shape.

To combat the dangers of over- and over-connection, there are simple solutions to put in place:

  • Establish fixed time slots for availability and breaks (and stick to them)
  • Don't hesitate to cut yourself off from the outside world to accomplish tasks that require a high level of concentration (Deep Work)
  • Anticipate departures on leave so as to pass on the baton to the employees present (absence or reorientation messages, etc.).

Re-learning how to delimit and organize one's work time and rest time is a skill soft skill that is acquired over time. Nowadays, this skill is fundamental at all levels of the company, as the deleterious nature of hyper-connection affects concentration and productivity. This is why it is important for managers to be particularly attentive to setting an example in terms of the right to disconnect. They need to learn to reduce immediate interactions and keep external stimuli at bay, especially in open-plan workplaces (which are the norm these days). 

The challenge is to focus attention on one important subject at a time. Finally, the current demands ofmultitasking are a deception, as they insidiously deteriorate the performance of employees, which has an impact on the competitiveness of the company.

To achieve this, it is important to raise awareness internally and to train managers.