Q&A: Navigating in the Age of Digital Overwhelm with Ananya Upadhyay

In this interview, we sat down with Ananya Upadhyay, an HR professional with a strong background in talent acquisition, employee engagement, and performance management, to discuss the implications of excessive screen time and digital connectivity on employee well-being.

The interview is edited for length and clarity. All views are personal and not linked to any organization. Every week, we schedule our weekly 1:1 with our readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Drop an email to abhash.kumar@springworks.in

Q: Ananya, you've seen the digital world's impact on the workplace. What's the deal with excessive screen time and digital connectivity?

Ananya: Too much screen time and digital connectivity can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it keeps us connected, but on the other, it can lead to digital burnout, stress, and even physical issues like eye strain and poor posture. It's all about finding that sweet spot.

Tips for a Digital Detox:

  • Set Boundaries: It's okay to disconnect. Set specific times for checking emails and messages. For example, at The 1% Club, we have a "No Email After 6 PM" policy to help employees unwind and disconnect after work.

  • Take Breaks: Step away from the screen. Take a walk, stretch, or just look away for a bit. We've introduced "Screen-Free Fridays" where employees go digital-free for an hour every Friday.

  • Balance is Key: Promote a work-life balance culture. Personal time is important too! We host tech-free team lunches where everyone leaves their devices at their desks.

Q: Why is "digital detox" a buzzword in today's corporate world?

Ananya: In our fast-paced world, we're always connected. It's like we're on digital overload. A digital detox gives us a much-needed break, helping us relax, recharge, and come back more focused and productive.

Ways to Promote Digital Detox:

  • Offline Fun: Encourage offline activities like reading, gardening, or spending time with loved ones. We have a "Screen-Free Hobby Hour" where employees can pursue a hobby that doesn't involve screens.

  • Mindfulness Matters: Promote mindfulness practices like meditation and deep breathing. We start our day with a 10-minute mindfulness session at The 1% Club.

  • Lead by Example: Practice digital detox yourself and inspire your team to do the same. Our leadership team at The 1% Club actively participates in digital detox activities.

Q: How does constant digital connectivity impact employee well-being and productivity?

Ananya: Being always connected can take a toll on both well-being and productivity. It can lead to digital burnout, stress, and anxiety. Plus, it can be super distracting, making it hard to focus and get things done.

Ways to Manage Digital Connectivity:

  • Clear Expectations: Let employees know it's okay to disconnect and take breaks. At The 1% Club, we have a clear policy that employees are not expected to respond to emails outside of office hours.

  • Time Management: Encourage effective time management, like setting specific times for checking emails. We have designated "Email Hours" at The 1% Club to help employees manage their time better.

  • Healthy Work Environment: Create a supportive and valued work environment. We have regular check-ins and provide resources like counseling services to support our employees.

Q: What signs should companies look for to spot employees experiencing digital burnout?

Ananya: Signs of digital burnout can include decreased productivity, increased stress and anxiety, physical issues like headaches and eye strain, and disengagement.

Ways to Address Digital Burnout:

  • Open Communication: Encourage employees to talk about their workload and challenges. We have an open-door policy at The 1% Club where employees can freely discuss their concerns.

  • Provide Support: Offer resources like counseling services or stress management workshops. We provide access to mental health resources and workshops at The 1% Club.

  • Work-Life Balance: Promote a work-life balance culture. We encourage our employees to prioritize their personal time and well-being.

Q: How crucial is leadership in promoting balanced digital engagement?

Ananya: Leadership plays a crucial role in promoting balanced digital engagement. Leaders set the tone for the organization and their actions and attitudes can influence the behavior of their teams. By practicing digital detox themselves and by promoting a culture of work-life balance, leaders can encourage their teams to prioritize their well-being and engage in balanced digital engagement.

For example, at 1% Club, our leaders actively participate in digital detox activities, and we have regular "Unplug with the CEO" sessions where leaders and employees disconnect from technology and engage in face-to-face conversations.

Q: How have employees responded to the idea of unplugging? Are there challenges?

Ananya: Employees have generally responded positively to the idea of unplugging. They appreciate the opportunity to take a break from the digital world and focus on their personal well-being. However, there have been some challenges. Some employees may struggle to disconnect, particularly if they are used to being constantly connected.

There may also be concerns about missing important communications. To address these challenges, we encourage open communication and provide support to employees as they navigate the process of unplugging. We've introduced a "Digital Detox Ambassador" program where employees who are passionate about digital detox can lead initiatives and support their colleagues in unplugging.

Q: Lastly, are there specific industries where the need for a digital detox is more pronounced?

Ananya: The need for a digital detox is more pronounced in industries where employees are required to be constantly connected, such as the tech industry or the media industry. In these industries, the constant flow of information and the need to be always available can be particularly overwhelming. However, the need for digital detox is relevant in all industries, as the digital world becomes increasingly integrated into our personal and professional lives.

At The 1% Club, we've noticed that even in industries not typically associated with constant connectivity, employees can benefit from digital detox initiatives. We've introduced "Screen-Free Fridays" and a "Tech-Free Zone" in our office to encourage employees to take regular breaks from their screens.

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Note: All views expressed in this interview are personal and not linked to any organization.