Sometimes I feel like we are becoming parts in a digital factory.
Reducing our digital overload problem is not just about tweaking usage of video-meeting platforms. It helps, but I wonder if you agree that the real problem is we’re trying to replicate our old work patterns in a radically new at-home environment.
We need new habits and new practices. Instead of us and our colleagues becoming “parts in a digital factory”, we should be building a new culture more attuned to professional sports teams rather than a conveyor belt. The little I know about sports professionals is that they have intense sessions of activity (work), then recovery. And the recovery is just as important.
There are some short-term fixes that can help alleviate this digital intensity, but the issue is also driving a larger conversation about what our jobs should look like in a whole new world of work.
Short-term fixes – take more time-outs
The good news is that something as simple as a 10-minute break, if used correctly, can help reduce the risk of a digital overload. Breaking up long stretches of meetings or on-screen work can help reduce the digital overload build-up.
If you give yourself a break, and do something like going for a walk, doodling, even grabbing a cup of tea. After the break, you’ll be more engaged and focused. Taking breaks lets you reset, and maintain better brain health.
Meetings have been broken for a long time… why should we replicate that in the virtual world?
Finding new ways to connect with our colleagues, and reducing the number of daily meetings, emails and virtual check-ins will do more than lessen the digital load. It will also pave the way for a reinvented workplace, which most expect to be a hybrid of old and new.
After a few weeks of daily pulse checks calls, our team decided that daily check-ins were too much. We’ve now cut them back to three times a week. We’ve also capped all meetings to 30 minutes. Any longer, we end up sneaking looks at incoming emails which is a whole other cognitive-overload issue. We also use the phone a ton more to save on long emails.
I don’t think our industry has been this demanding in my career. The digital overload makes everyday that much more intense. To continue to attract talent and retain our All-Stars, we should look at every process and ask: why are we doing this? Is there a way to do this more effectively? Let’s not replicate what we’ve always done and just do it virtually. Let’s figure out how to do it better.