Digital Disconnection in the Workplace

Since the advent of the mobile phone our use of technology has increased exponentially. Social media is now a staple of the workplace much of which is managed from our phones, meetings are organised from our PC’s and laptops, email communications have replaced telephone conversations and meetings, presentations and seminars are often undertaken virtually.

Many companies have incorporated technology into the fabric of their business and there is no doubt that the digital era has made us more time efficient as a workforce, but to what detriment? There is an emerging development in the workplace which has become known as the ‘Digital Disconnect’. Softs skills are developed through our everyday ‘human’ interactions, so what happens when our human interactions become reduced in favour of increased technological interactions? How does this translate into the workplace?

A recent article published in the September edition of ‘People Management’ Magazine [CIPD] cited that our digital disconnect was ‘damaging our workplace culture, morale and profitability’. Our continuous use of digital communication may be damaging people’s ability to effectively interact and communicate with each other, their superiors and vice versa. The articles authors, both PhD clinical psychologists go even further in their belief that the digital disconnect may be creating a workforce who are so disconnected that they lack psychological investment in the organisation, have an unwillingness to contribute fully to the organisation and in extreme cases exhibit aggressive behaviour towards other employees.

So what can companies do to negate any effects of this advancing trend?

  • Encourage employees to seek out different forms of communication, emailing the colleague across from them may seem efficient but could they talk to them instead?
  •  Pick up the phone, emails and text messages can be very impersonal, the 7%-38%-55% rule developed by Mehrabian shows that effective and meaningful communication is 38% tone of voice []
  •  Make sure that you are hiring the right people in the right jobs, disconnected managers may only encourage a disconnected workforce. Psychometric testing is a good way to analyse candidate’s character.
  •  Arrange face to face meetings, time and location may not always allow for regular face to face meetings but make time where possible to physically connect with fellow managers and employees.
  •  Use regular team building to reinforce a team mentality and identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article or if we can help with psychometric testing, please contact one of our consultants who will be happy to help.

People Management Magazine, CIPD, September 2016