When we hear statements about how mobile phones and social media are damaging our mental health, it’s easy to lump all of technology into that ‘bad’ bubble.
For the last 15 years, the number of hours UK adults spend using the internet has been steadily increasing. As of 2019, the average time spent using the internet was 25.1 hours per week, an increase of 15.2 hours compared to 2005.
But emerging studies suggest that technology can actually improve our mental health, helping us in our daily lives more than we realise. Below are some examples of how technology can help your mindset and be a positive force for change.
Reducing brain noise
The human brain can only hold three or four things in the conscious mind at one time, so it’s no wonder we get overwhelmed when our weekly tasks and responsibilities start to roll in. The age-old joke about the inability to multitask isn’t just for men; as our lives get faster and busier it can be a huge struggle to keep on top of our changing priorities.
Many people find list-writing a comfort, especially those who fall under the neurodiversity umbrella such as myself. As a dyslexic, I have to write a lot of things down otherwise it’s immensely stressful, and with lists evolving from paper notepads to our mobile phones and devices, it’s easier than ever to stay on top of your to-dos. I find a quick voicenote to myself while out and about can relieve the pressure of having to remember a million things.
Another major cause of stress is the worry about forgetting something, so anyone who goes to sleep at night with lot of things on their mind will be impacting their mental health without realising it. A quick digital note before bed can help to achieve those much-needed Zzzs.
As a manager in the workplace, you may be offloading tasks to your team without realising they’re completely overwhelmed. When faced with a never-ending pile of work, you risk an employee shutting down completely, which is a dangerous point for a business to reach.
Using a simple and collaborative project-management tool to get a 360-degree view of the tasks at hand can be a godsend for busy or complex teams. At Cloud9 Insight we have just started using Asana to keep on top of task-based projects as the business continues to grow. Since adopting this simple tool, we’ve found that accountability of employees has increased, communication between teams has improved, and our goals are much more clearly defined, making for happy and positive employees.
Managing risk can be a huge source of anxiety for business owners, and technology can help to facilitate this and alleviate stress.
I worked with a client many years ago who provided infrastructure for big energy projects. Typically, several different companies would come together virtually to bid for projects as a consortium. Without technology they would never have been able to keep tabs on what was sent to whom, and so they were able to keep risks low.
It’s also crucial that there is no ‘one person dependency’ in your business – the pressure of being the only person who knows how to do a particular task or activity can be overwhelming, and provides ripe conditions for meltdown. Businesses should never put employees in a position where they are the single point of failure – there needs to be an environment where it won’t be Armageddon if someone is off sick or has to take unexpected leave. Your employees are loyal, but they can damage their health by turning up to work when they aren’t able – nurture them and you’ll reap the rewards.
Mobilising great ideas
You never know when that great idea will suddenly hit you, and with a mobile device in your pocket that’s ready-to-go in a single swipe, it’s easier than ever to capture inspiration or actions without having to wait to log on. Capturing your to-dos when you’re out and about can free up brain space and foster an environment for more great ideas.
Breaking down barriers
How would you eat an elephant? Bit by bit. Sounds odd, but it’s the same with your projects. By using technology, you’re not having to manage and organise everything in your head. Business projects can be overwhelming, and using tech to break things down into small chunks can make things seem far less daunting.
For things like our marketing or sales projects, we can use smart technology to capture the minutiae of projects and the pieces of the puzzle that might have dependencies – turning what initially seems like a heavy burden into a smaller bitesize set of tasks. Use technology to plan your journey and you’ll have a more rewarding planning experience.
Best practice tips for managing remote employee wellbeing
“Wellbeing isn’t just yoga and a fruit bowl – it’s about looking after your whole self – you don’t just bring your work persona to the workplace. From both a moral and business standpoint, an employee’s wellbeing has a direct impact on productivity and engagement. Businesses must look after their employees now, in order to be profitable at the end of an oncoming recession.”
Automating the mundane
Some tasks are just dull – there’s no getting around it! For a sales team, writing a proposal can be time consuming and demotivating when they would rather be out there chasing leads and closing deals. At Cloud9 Insight we use our Dynamics 365 CRM system to automate the generation of quotes and proposals, meaning the bulk of the gruntwork is done in a few clicks.
We’re seeing more and more companies wanting to adopt automation into their processes to reduce stress for their employees. By taking care of the unexciting stuff, team members can get stuck into what they really love and are good at, which boosts wellbeing.
Having a centralised CRM also alleviates the stress of employees not being able to find something they need – important documents are centralised and accessible alongside accompanying insights, rather than sitting in an employee’s inbox with no context.
Getting a grasp on HR
As our business continues to grow, we become more and more grateful for our cloud-based HR software platform, Breathe. It would be almost impossible to manage our growing team (contracts, holidays etc) without it – we can keep track of everything in one place. We have the added benefits of gaining insights into employee behaviour, including patterns of sickness – which may help to identify any patterns and allow us to address any issues if someone is struggling.
Mental ill health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, and with the biggest risks including; poor communication, inflexible working practices and unclear tasks or objectives (which can all be combated by the right tech), there’s no excuse not to embrace technology as part of your employee wellbeing initiatives.