Digital work-life balance was the topic of a recent conference at Bournemouth University (BU).
The free event was open to the public and hoped to answer the question, “Can employees really switch off during travel?”
Hundreds of staff, students and members of the public attended the event on Talbot Campus which brought together a mix of thinkers, researchers and industry professionals. BU’s Dr Barbara Neuhofer and Professor Adele Ladkin organised and chaired the event which was in association with the Balance Network.
A series of presentations from academics and industry speakers were delivered, each giving different viewpoints on the challenges and expectations of employee connectivity when away from the workplace or whilst travelling.
The speakers hoped to answer the questions: In an age where everyone seems to be constantly connected to technology, do we need to switch off our mobiles and email or should we be adapting to a new way of living? Is living our lives through a screen damaging our wellbeing and does fear of missing out play a factor in digital addiction?
The conference continued with a panel discussion and audience Q&A featuring academics and professionals from PR, HR and wellbeing industries. The topic up for debate was “Switching off: Luxury or necessity?” and invited some very different viewpoints from panellists. Looking to the future, the discussion moved onto employers incentivising taking holidays, flexible working hours and employers using FitBit monitoring technology to ensure their staff’s wellbeing. The need for employers and managers to adapt to the ways of digital natives was also discussed.
In closing the panellists were asked to sum up their key thought for the day, Freelance HR Professional, Claire Steiner, summed up her advice: “You have to be the master of the technology and don’t let the technology be the master of you.”
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, Director of eTourismLab at BU, commented: “We need to learn to live in this new blend of life, with work.”
Commenting after the conference Professor Ladkin said: “We were really pleased with the event. The speakers did a fantastic job, and we had some excellent debates around the issues raised.
“Being ‘always connected’ through our different devices is something that resonates with many of us. How we might begin to understand the impact of this for our work-life balance is an important issue to address”
Dr Barbara Neuhofer, Lecturer in Tourism & Hospitality said: “Understanding how technology affects our ability to take a rest from work will be critical to individuals and organisations in managing expectations and implications of the 24/7 always-on culture”
“One of our event’s take away lessons was that “going off the grid’ is about choice and included in this managing expectations about acceptable limits to technology use.”