In the era of smartphones and slack, how do you get employees to disconnect?

I see a lot of our employees using slack out-of-hours, on weekends, and even on vacation. While it’s great for employees to be plugged into the organization, we’re seeing people finding it harder and hard to disconnect. Are there any programs out there that are successful at getting employees to get away from their (work) devices?

While being plugged into our digital lives is important and useful, many of us (myself included at times) find it hard to disconnect and even start to show signs of obsessive/addictive behaviours. Here is how we encourage a healthy level of phone use:

  1. Disable Phone Notifications - especially for noisy non-work related applications.

  2. If the above still doesn’t work, consider setting App time limits on your phone or installing Social Media Blocking Apps.

  3. Participate in more technology free activities (eg. hiking, cycling, eating out with friends, etc)

  4. Set “Do Not Disturb” on your phone to regularly quieten your phone from at least 1 hour before you go to sleep and all through the night. Don’t worry you can always allow multiple calls by certain people to still get through to you in an emergency.

  5. Don’t sleep with your phone next to you. The temptation can be too great.

  6. If you are with others, don’t check your phone, but rather be in the moment. Our family and friends are worth us being 100% present. Let’s not take them for granted.

  7. Think about taking up meditation and/or mindfulness (I prefer the later). Find time where you can do this regularly throughout the week.

  8. Set further limits on phone use over the weekend. This is your time, so don’t fill it with work and other distractions!


The above are all great recommendations for how individuals can limit their media use and make clear delineations between work and personal life. There are also things that organizations can do:

  1. If you’re in a leadership position, be a good role model of work-life balance. Don’t use email or slack outside of your work hours, and if you must, schedule them so they’ll land within the receiver’s work hours.
  2. Create organizational policies around emailing. For example, in 2012, Volkswagon made their email servers cut off during certain hours so it was physically impossible for employees to work outside of hours. Some companies and even countries are following suit. Of course, it doesn’t need to be that extreme but seeing that your company has taken a stance helps employees not feel the burden to respond.
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