Screen-time for your Employees: How Much is Too Much?

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Workplaces in the information age, or for that matter, our lives themselves are dominated by screens and screen-time – anywhere and everywhere. According to a CNN survey, the modern-day employee ends up spending around 11 hours on an average weekday in front of a screen – laptop, smartphone or other devices. This is almost half of the overall day and two-thirds of the awake time. 

This is now no longer a borderline challenge as the excessive screen-time is now a very real problem for employers to tackle. Let’s first understand what exactly are the negative effects of excessive screen-time for your employees.

  • Decreased cognitive functioning 
  • Vision-related problems
  • Increased headaches
  • Insomnia & lack of sleep
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Decreased metabolic rate

Also, extreme levels of screen-time over the long-term have been known to increase mental illnesses such as depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, lack of motivation, relationship challenges, etc. 

In addition to the health & efficiency challenges, all the above factors subsequently increase healthcare costs for the employer and ultimately affect the bottom-line of the organization adversely. 

Now coming to the question of how much of the screen-time is too much, the onus lies not just with employers but with the employees as well. Firstly, it is important to underline the fact that work-related screen-time is a necessity and completely cutting down on it may not be always feasible. Thus, employees must also make an effort to ensure they reduce some screen-time from their personal lives to ensure an overall balance.

What can Employers do?

  • Allow for distraction-free breaks
  • Promote fewer post-work email/notifications from work
  • Encourage personal interactions & huddles
  • Have regular offsite meetings
  • Plan for device-free sessions 

What can Employees do?

  • Mute notifications at night
  • Keep your devices away at least half-hour before you get to bed
  • Make it a habit to refrain from using a device for some time during the day (say lunch or dinner or for an hour after reaching home)
  • Do not give post-work hour deadlines to your colleagues/clients
  • Inculcate self-discipline

The concept of excessive screen-time is a necessary evil in our times. There are no conclusive methods to completely wash it away, however, there are ways to curb its prevalence in our lives. How it is achieved is a personal choice. Should you wish to reduce screen-time from your lives and adopt a healthier lifestyle, it is possible. 

From the employer’s side, they ought to encourage employees to be more active, promote a work culture that aids improved efficiency – and this includes finding innovative ways to curb down on some of the screen-time their employees currently expend.