By Louise Hallet
Let's talk hyperconnectivty
Hyperconnectivity, shall we talk about it?
It’s indeed paradoxically, behind my computer screen, that I wish to open the debate on hyperconnectivity today. I had the chance to take part in the workshop organized by HR Alert and Balencio on this subject, and these are my conclusions.
Everything available at your fingertips, immediately, anywhere, all the time
Since the advent of the internet, the world has become increasingly digital to make processes more efficient. But what are the effects? In addition to information overload, the distance that is being created, and the transformation of real-time into immediacy, I would like to talk more specifically about the ratio between private life and professional life.
In this new work context of "everything - everywhere - all the time - right now", what about the place of the professional in the private sphere?
💭Have you ever checked your email on Sunday evening before starting a new week?
💭Have you ever sent a last-minute email on a Tuesday night at 11 pm?
💭Have you ever looked at LinkedIn on a Saturday morning?
It’s important to point out that digitalization in companies obviously brings benefits:
✔️simplicity of use
✔️saving money due to the speed of targeted communication
✔️achieving high levels of performance
It’s indeed an inescapable and inevitable progress in today's professional world.
That said, any good thing taken to its extreme can create an imbalance. There are negative impacts on organizations such as overwork, dehumanization, loss of information, and digital carbon footprint.
How can companies support their employees in this respect?
- In Belgium, the law of 26 March 2018 invites employers to organize regular consultations on the subject of "disconnection from work and the use of digital connections".
- More recently, the European framework agreement of 22 June 2020 sets out certain disconnection arrangements to be implemented in the respective legal frameworks of all European countries by June 2023.
- In addition, the Royal Decree of 03 January 2022 introduces the right to disconnect for state employees.
In addition to the legislative side, every manager or team leader can be innovative in this disconnection approach, a topic I'll circle back to later in this article.
How can workers protect themselves?
The first step would surely be to become aware of it. Hyperconnectivity represents a quantitatively important connection that doesn’t necessarily have negative consequences, but which can lead to them.
Overconnectivity, on the other hand, is subjectively experienced as too restrictive depending on the activity, the context, and the resources available "because it generates a significant psychological, cognitive and social cost".
Next, it would be interesting to consider what the causes of hyperconnectivity are. They may be of individual origin (each person has his or her mode of connection at work and home) but also organizational (norms between colleagues or company policies).
During the workshop, several possible solutions were proposed by the various participants.
Why not set up a disconnection charter?
But of course, it must be put into practice, co-constructed and aim at continuous improvement. It could be interesting to combine it with a guide to good use of digital tools, for example. What if each company organized a perception survey among its teams? This would enable everyone to see their personal attitude to digitalization and would become a basis for implementing more targeted and adapted solutions.
Another thing: do you activate your notifications (email, LinkedIn, etc.)? Setting aside certain times of the day to check your mailbox without being disturbed at any time by a pop-up could perhaps allow us to concentrate better.
In the end, the key is surely communication. Don't hesitate to talk about it in your private or professional sphere. Impose certain rules to protect yourself, and put in place organizational & individual solutions.
What's your experience with hyperconnectivity?