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Kiwis keen to reduce workplace screen time - for a $250 bonus

05 Mar 2020

The Day of Unplugging, a day dedicated to a global 24-hour respite from technology, is tomorrow, and a survey quizzing New Zealand employees about their screen time revealed an almost united front regarding the issue.

83% of Kiwi workers say they would have no problem significantly reducing their screen time at work – if they were given an extra $250 a month.

This is according to a recent poll from Frog Recruitment Digital Diet, which surveyed 9,000 employees throughout New Zealand businesses and found the vast majority of participants would reduce screen time if incentivised to do so.

Even more (92%) said they would put their team on a ‘digital diet’ to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

The poll results show an appetite for workplaces to assess the amount of time their employees are on a screen and provide not only respite but an incentive for people to switch off.

“We acknowledge that different industries have different screen time usage demands and going on a digital diet rather than a detox is still better than total saturation of devices,” says Frog Recruitment business relationship director Jane Kennelly.

“But what employers need to do is understand how often their workforce is using digital devices and recognise that it is not healthy to stare at a screen for seven hours a day.

“Digital obesity is a growing problem in New Zealand and the number of people addicted to their phones and social media is increasing at an alarming rate. 

“Our desire for a healthier lifestyle means employers need to consider implementing downtime strategies or a digital diet to keep workers healthy and creative – it’s also crucial for maintaining productivity.”

An early adopter of the initiative, American start-up company Front has implemented an incentive for its employees to unplug.

The company pays them US$200 if they can reduce their screen time to less than two hours a day for an entire month. 

The goal of the challenge, says Frog Recruitment, is to help employees 'resist the itch' to check their notifications and become more present and focused in their professional and personal lives.

“Taking time away from our desks, machines or computers to have conversations with colleagues about ideas, sketch a concept or tackle a task manually can foster more workplace creativity,” says Kennelly.

“Limiting our access to technology can increase teamwork and communication in the workplace. 

“Mentally, a digital diet will mean people experience less stress typically caused by being constantly on-call for the next job that pops up on our screens.”

Kennelly adds that while technology continues to change the way we work, being aware of its impact is vital to not only our physical health but also our mental health

“It is encouraging to see so many companies willing to take action, prioritising the wellbeing of their talent,” says Kennelly.

“Offline will soon become our new luxury.”