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Is screen time bad for your business?

If you run a business with an office, the likelihood is that your employees spend a lot of their day in front of a computer screen. It’s been suggested that prolonged screen time can affect your physical and mental health, but how bad is this for your business?  

The average office worker will spend 6 ½ hours a day in front of a computer or laptop. Research suggests that employees believe it leads to eye strain, tiredness and headaches. The new Screen Time feature on iOS 12 made waves this year by showing us how often we’re on our mobile devices – and when you factor in those hours too, that’s an awful lot of time staring at a screen.

The issue for businesses is that if the amount of screen time your employees have during the day leads to these kinds of issues, this will have a knock-on effect on the quality of work. According to Public Health England, the cost of an unhealthy workforce to the UK taxpayer has been estimated at over £60 billion per year. Healthy staff, by comparison, are less likely to take time off and are more likely to be productive.

So how much time is too much?

For those who work in offices, it’s expected that you’ll spend a lot of the day in front of your screen. It’s unclear how much is too much screen time – and even if there was a definitive answer, it’s likely that it would vary from person to person. But if prolonged screen time is having a detrimental effect on your employees’ health, which affects productivity, it makes sense for businesses to help reduce it any way they can.

What can businesses do?

It’s not practical for businesses to drastically reduce work hours, particularly if your business provides a service to customers who will expect you to be there all the time. But there are things that businesses can do to help.

1. Regular screen breaks

It's been recommended that we take one 5-10 minute break, or change our activity every hour if we work with a screen. Obviously, it might not be as simple as just changing the activity your employees are working on, but stepping away from the desk (and ideally, phones too!) for five minutes is an easy way that employees can help themselves.   

2. No-screen lunches

For the hour or thirty minutes that your employees aren’t working, getting them away from the screens completely is ideal. Even something as simple as having board games on hand can be enough to drive people away from their desks and into doing something different for a while! Having a space away from desks, where employees can just relax is a great way to get them off the screens.

3. Get everyone out and about

If your business is in a busy area, making relationships with other surrounding businesses can be a great way of getting your employees away from the screen. Getting the information out to your employees about the kinds of places they’re surrounded by is a subtle way of diverting their attention outwards, and away from the desks.

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