Startup Creativity Unplugged: Why Your Employees Need to Get Offline

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Benefits of Unplugging: Getting Employees Offline

The Importance of Getting Employees Offline

There seems to be a growing trend amongst individuals participating in “unplugged” retreats, that is, people paying for a service that actually takes away all of their gadgets for a few days and helps them reconnect with themselves, those around them, and nature. Many of these retreats appear to be selling out very quickly as the demand for wanting to disconnect continues to rise, particularly amongst professionals who have work responsibilities immersed within the online domain (e.g., social media, tech investment, online recruitment, etc.).

Of course, one of the challenges of participating in such a service is the anxiety that arises from the FOMO — the fear of missing out! In reality, this anxiety appears to be short-term and part of a deeper healing process that takes place at one of these weekend retreats. Through this experience, participants slowly become conscious of and engage in the broader dimensions of their lives, which are now more apparent to them, and reconnect with what’s most important for them.

Studies have shown that there are significant benefits of unplugging in general, as well as unplugging from work activities during the weekend and when on vacation. Some may argue that these benefits outweigh the short-term disadvantages of not knowing exactly what’s happening in the world around them at that very moment. But some of the benefits include “lower levels of fatigue and job burnout,” as well as “higher levels of positive emotions and life satisfaction” (see YoungAh Park’s study on “Work-life balance needed for recovery from job stress” for further details). It is evident that going offline can generate numerous benefits for individuals, but what type of impact can it also have for companies or startups wanting to help their employees move in this direction?

Companies can benefit just as much as their employees when going offline

Many of the benefits outlined above can be aggregated and evaluated from a company’s perspective. By encouraging employees to completely disconnect during weekends and vacation, employers actually stand to benefit even though the practice or outcome appears counterintuitive. Let’s explore a couple of these benefits in greater detail:

1) Higher levels of creativity

One of the pillars of a successful startup is the ability of its employees to innovate and generate creative ideas that differentiate its brand and services from its competitors. Emerging studies in the areas of neuroscience and psychology are helping to illustrate how unplugging and/or increasing the allocation of downtime can foster higher levels of creativity and concentration amongst individuals. In addition, these studies illustrate that individuals who carry out fewer tasks or allocate more time for deeper reflection tend to exert higher levels of creativity.

Companies or startups that encourage their employees to disconnect regularly are more likely to reap the benefits in the form of creative ideas that may translate into leading innovations.

2) Reduced health costs

Many employers are struggling to keep health costs down due to employees experiencing increasing levels of physical and mental illness arising from higher workloads and more challenging and stressful work environments. Unplugging can assist employees disconnect from the workplace, rejuvenate mentally, and pursue other areas of activity that generate increased levels of happiness and purpose in one’s life. These benefits can dramatically improve an employee’s health and well-being, thereby reducing the cost of corporate health benefits and improving a company’s bottom line.

Have you thought about what you can you to do encourage your employees to “unplug”?

Head of People Operations