4 Reasons for “Tech-Free” Time in the Office

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Businessman lying in grass with bookHow many times do you use some form of technology per day? The average person may listen to music or the news via a cell phone, radio or tablet in the morning. Same goes for on the way to work or perhaps he or she may make a call while driving.

Once in the office it’s onto the computer for emails, Word documents, programs and all types of files. Lunch (if not taken away from the desk) can be ordered online or by phone. After work it’s back home for TV, Skype chats or online video games.

Technology is everywhere and is a part of most of the things that help us function every day. We can buy groceries online and have them shipped to our door; we can shop for clothes and have gifts delivered to someone with a click of a mouse. Paying bills, transferring money, depositing checks: this can all be done through technology.

And inside the workplace it’s no different. Most jobs today require some type of technology. Many workers go into the office five days a week, eight hours a day and sit behind a computer. Technology, technology, technology. Like the infamous Southwest Airlines tagline, do you ever just wanna’ get away?

I read an article in The Washington Post that talked about employers implementing tech-free times during the workday. The Post reported that German car-manufacturer Volkswagen turns off mobile email in Germany 30 minutes after an employee’s shift ends; the company then turns email back on 30 minutes before the person’s next shift begins.

The article also said Google, Nike and the Huffington Post, among others, provide spaces for their employees to take naps or to meditate. Companies that allot time and spaces for employees to get away from technology? What a great idea.

Taking a break from our fast-paced, technologically driven society has an abundance of benefits. Below are just four of the many reasons you may want to consider implementing tech-free time during the work day.

1. Relaxation

Stress is typically some part of every worker’s day, and, oftentimes, that stress can stem from technology. Have you ever sat in front of the computer for too long and gotten a headache? Or you’re almost finished with a project when your computer freezes? How about when your company’s entire system goes down for hours and no employees can get any work done? Technology can cause tension. Taking time away from the computer while at work can help relieve this inevitable stress. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, this tech-free time can help your mind and body relax and de-stress.

2. Promote inter-office communication skills

I have been in many office-communication scenarios where two workers sit in cubicles right next to one another. Instead of simply turning their heads to ask a question or make a comment, the workers will email or IM each other. It’s like today’s texting syndrome. People do not prefer to really talk anymore because they can text you. Stepping away from technology for awhile in the office will help strengthen inter-office communication. Employees will be forced to talk to one another face-to-face, which can help develop interpersonal communication skills. Physically talking over emailing and IMing can also help you discover new things about your coworkers.

3. Clearer thinking

Again, sitting in front of the computer (or any kind of technology) for too long does something to our minds. It can be straining, not only for the eyes, but your thoughts. This is why writers practice getting away from something they’ve just written before rereading it. Removing yourself from technology, especially after using it for consecutive hours, helps de-fog your brain and allows for clearer thinking. Sometimes it is healthy to simply free your mind and not think at all. Just spend a few minutes not concentrating on work, family, friends or any other part of your normal day. Use your tech-free time to just be. A clear mind produces better productivity at work.

4. Appreciation

Many times, technology can de-value things. Because our world is so fast paced and people now desire instant gratification, we miss out on the value of “the wait.” Remember when you had to wait to get something you really wanted? And how great it felt when you finally received it? Very often technology removes that sense of appreciation; tech-free time in the office can help bring it back. Try handwriting a thank you note instead of sending an email. Or fill out a physical form instead of typing responses in online. Tech-free time can also help you see things you may have missed because of being consumed in technology. Go out to lunch and gain an appreciation for what’s outside in the environment. Or read an actual book on your break instead of using your kindle to appreciate physically turning the pages of a book, setting your bookmark in the right place and the feel of the bound, hardback book you carry underneath your arm. Sounds small, but learning to acknowledge and appreciate the small things in life can be beneficial to your overall health, inside and outside of the office.

By Shala Marks