Effective Screen Time While Working from Home

Before the quarantine, most of us likely thought that we have spent almost all of our workday at the computer. But little did we know that you could spend so much more. Between commutes, meetings, chats, watercooler talks, coffee breaks, and lunches, we had many opportunities throughout the day where our eyes would have less screen time and detach from the digital realm.

Now with those natural breaks eliminated, there’s little to no break from the connection to technology. In particular, video calls add an extra layer of fatigue. Having to focus on multiple faces simultaneously while also being conscious that everyone can see you creates an added layer of mental and emotional exhaustion that wouldn’t be experienced as acutely in an in-person setting. The extra time in front of the computer can also cause eye strain and muscle fatigue because you need to hold your body rigid for hours to stay inside a camera’s range.

A recent study found that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen — and that was before many of us began working from home. Add to that our frequent use of phones and other digital devices, and you’ve got a recipe for unhappy — and possibly unhealthy — eyes. What are the implications for the eyes during this period of greatly increased screen time?

When we’re moving between meetings and offices and interacting with people face-to-face, it’s a simple fact that we move our eyes more. We blink more, which helps keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable. But when we look at a screen for extended periods, we tend not to blink. In fact, focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital displays has been shown to reduce a person’s blink rate by a third to a half.

According to Esen Akpek, professor of ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine and an expert in dry eye, not only does extensive gazing — such as that which occurs when reading on a computer screen — dry the eyes, it also starts a vicious cycle. “When your eyes become dry, that reduces reading speed, which further increases exposure time and worsens dryness,” Akpek has said, “and this can ultimately lead to inflammation of the eye surface and a self-perpetuating chronic dry eye.”

Gone are the days when we could break away from our computers with post-work pub trips, theatre visits, or meals out. Work events and conferences, too, once provided a much-needed respite from staring at displays all day, while meetings could be conducted device-free and in-person. Due to ongoing lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we’ve come to rely on screens more than ever; not just for work, but to keep our social lives going, too.

In order to help your time management and regain energy, there are ways that can reduce or eliminate technology throughout the day. Here are a few tips and tricks that have been proved to be most effective.

Limit meeting duration

Normally, setting aside blocks of time to get work done is a good idea. But if you find virtual meetings draining, this practice is even more essential for you right now. Block out time on your schedule where you’re not available for meetings so that you can temper how much virtual communication you have each day. That could look like setting aside most of a morning or afternoon as a meeting-free time or blocking out a few one-hour chunks of time throughout the day to detach and focus on other work.

More physical less digital

In order to balance out the increased screen time both on and off the clock, look for ways that you can take the low-tech route. Brainstorming for an article? Write out your thoughts on paper. Creating a road map for a big project? Sketch the initial draft on a white board. Reading a book? Pick up a print copy. Exercising? Go outside on a run. Anytime you can reasonably choose a physical option over a digital one, take it. Stepping away from the computer not only offers you a digital break, but can help you be more creative.

Get up and move

To cancel out the fatigue caused by sitting rigidly in front of your computer, move around as much as you can. In between meetings, take a walk to the kitchen to refill your water or coffee. When you need a quick break, do a few simple movements like rolling your shoulders to get the blood flowing. If you have a standing desk, move it up and down so you’re able to both sit and stand throughout the day. If you don’t have a standing desk, put your computer on a high counter or bureau to get an opportunity to stretch your legs. And if you’re on a normal phone call and don’t need to be taking notes or looking at documents while you talk, consider standing up or even walking back and forth during the conversation.

Activate the blue-light filter on all of your devices

One of the most effective ways to immediately reduce eye strain is by installing a filter that warms the tone of your display. Although the eyes absorb blue light naturally, prolonged exposure from computer displays can lead to eye strain, according to Prevent Blindness. The consequences include irritation as well as difficulty focusing.

There are a number of free tools out there, including f.lux and the open-source Lightbulb, which users can download immediately in order to modify the tones on their displays. macOS and Windows 10 users can also opt to make use of night-time filters bundled into their operating systems. These can be found under display settings in each OS and can be activated throughout the day if needs be, not just at night.

Tech-free breaks

Although it may feel more “efficient” to eat lunch at your computer, your brain will thank you for taking a break from the screen. Eat lunch while chatting with your family members in the kitchen, looking out a window, or reading a physical book. Stepping away from technology not only gives your brain a break but also gives you the added bonus of perspective. I find that even when I take a short lunch of 15 to 20 minutes where I simply eat without doing anything else, I feel more peaceful at the end than I did before. I also find that I tend to have a clearer sense of the big picture of what’s occurring in my life and work.

Another practice that’s benefiting myself as well as many of my time management coaching clients is post-work outdoor physical activity. This includes taking a walk, playing basketball in a driveway, gardening, or anything else that gets you active. This split from the digital world refreshes your brain and helps to create some separation from the end of your work day and the beginning of your personal time.

Don’t e-socialise right after working hours

In the last few weeks, we’ve been forced to find increasingly creative ways to stay in touch with our friends and loved ones – whether on Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Google Hangout.

Just as you wish to break up your working day, it’s important not to hop straight from work to online catchups, however. You should leave a little room for a break to reduce the strain on your eyes, perhaps by getting up for a short walk, making a snack, or catching up with the people you live with. Try to leave yourself a little breathing room in the schedule while organising your digital commitments to ensure you aren’t glued to your computer, tablet or smartphone all morning.

Take up a new hobby

Besides saving time on travel, lockdown has freed up dozens of hours per week that would have otherwise been spent on going out or meeting up with people in-person. While this is the perfect time to catch up on boxsets, or the latest shows that have passed us by, it’s critical we don’t fill all these hours up with yet more screen-related activities.

It could be the best time to engage in a long-lost passion, learn how to cook, or take up more exercise. There are hundreds of activities you can take up now and then throughout the lockdown period to ensure you’re keeping yourself entertained while resting your eyes after a day locked to your computer. This may also help to more effectively maintain a work-life balance, with these lines threatening to become intertwined very easily.

When it’s possible to go back to more in-person communications, it will be a wonderful relief. But in the immediate term, some of the added digital load is unavoidable. These strategies can help you counter that load and reduce digital fatigue.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:




Innovation in Isolation: How to Trigger your Creativity

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May

Our journey towards the isolation economy is well underway as workers are getting increasingly comfortable working from home. Unfortunately, however, as we work in isolation, we miss out on some of the positive elements of workplace interaction and collaboration that we have taken for granted. As working from home becomes the new normal, we will need to relearn many of our previous collaborative activities and make them as productive they used to be, while secluded in our homes.

Nowadays, we are forced into working from home by a once-in-a-generation pandemic, but many of our isolation behaviours will persist once the coronavirus is behind us. Even though remote work has certain advantages and may also enhance productivity in many respects, innovation is one thing that becomes harder to do and may suffer as a result.

There has a general feeling that more meetings have occurred since the isolation began, more than we used to before. During the first week, it was about catching up with everyone to talk about the latest news, vent and get support, but then by the second week, it became apparent that people were scheduling meetings to avoid being alone.

In our modern lives with never ending social media and on demand entertainment, we had already excelled in avoiding being alone, especially when these services use psychological triggers to keep us always-on and engaged in a continuous content consuming frenzy. We have started to hate being alone according to a 2014 study: “many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts” for even 6–15 minutes.

Innovation is difficult in Isolation

Innovation in isolation is hard because human creativity needs idea sharing and interaction to flourish. Breakthroughs never come from lone inventors who toil alone in a dusky lab. Instead, they thrive when ideas are shared, challenged, and refined. For this reason, local coffee shops and office cafeterias have always been hubs of creativity and innovation.

Increases in population density have always led to a higher rate of idea generation, productivity, and economic output. Cities are where innovation happens, and this is due to the increased opportunity for the exchange and clash of concepts. The ability to share ideas is the primary reason innovation is localized. Silicon Valley and Seattle have become the hotbeds for technology innovation. Similarly, other cities have become centres for innovation for automobiles, banking, financial services, and other industries.

Innovation only happens when knowledge builds on knowledge and ideas build on ideas. When you are working from home, you have fewer collaborative encounters, and the rate of innovation suffers.

When workers are isolated, co-workers are unable to have unstructured and spontaneous discussions that serve as the root of innovation. Yes, you can have productive meetings using Zoom. But the casual conversation you have while walking in and out of a conference room or meeting someone in the breakroom doesn’t happen, and those are the chance encounters that often lead to flashes of creativity and innovation.

But innovation is still possible. Today, even potential vaccines for coronavirus, designed to end our solitude, are being developed in isolation. But vaccine development is progressing at a rapid rate because scientists around the world are and sharing their research. This collaboration is critical for allowing advances to being built on top of one another.

Creativity and the Science Behind It

There is solid evidence that proves why solitude, if harnessed mindfully, can improve our creativity in everyday life. And it all starts with brain waves.

For instance, when we’re in deep sleep, the brain enters into the Delta wave, which is an unconscious state when repair and healing occur. If we move towards consciousness, the next wave is Theta, which activates during light sleep. One is usually in Theta just before sleeping and just after awakening. While these waves are fantastic for random creations and ideas (remember that crazy dream you had the other day?), we can’t easily enter them at will or control them.

On the opposite end, we have Gamma waves, which represent the brain processing information and learning with intense focus, and Beta waves, which is the reductive state of mind — alert and focused. We’re operating in a Beta state for most of our day, making reductive decisions and executing.

Alpha Power

In the middle of these two extremes, we have the Alpha wave, which is produced when the brain is in a relaxed, unfocused state usually associated with being awake but idle (i.e. not concentrating on any specific thing). Alpha waves are correlated with creativity since creativity requires expansive thinking instead of reductive. According to a 2015 study, researchers could trigger a surge in creativity if they specifically focused on enhancing alpha waves. In this study, they used electrical triggers, but it’s widely accepted that meditation and mindfulness also work in getting the brain in an Alpha state.

And herein lies the magic. We can actively try to influence our brains to produce alpha waves for creative thinking and problem solving. Think of the places where you usually get your best ideas. For most people, the answer is while taking a shower and lying in bed just before going to bed. We’re now isolated in potentially the most alpha-inducing environment we could be. But we need to see past the confinement and into the opportunity that’s right in front of us.

How the Internet Came to Life

There are ways you can create massive and world-changing innovations while working from home, but you need to be deliberate about it. Since you will always need collaboration and idea-sharing for innovation to happen, you need to learn how to do so without the benefit of a physical interaction.

The best way to innovate in a remote environment is by creating a community of people who work on solving a problem independently, but collaboratively. Such communities, called Networked Improvement Communities, have been responsible for some of the most breathtaking innovations. As an example, take the development of The Internet, the most significant creation of our time.

The Internet was created through idea sharing and networked improvement. Designed by a group of pioneers working independently across universities and research institutions around the world, it was driven by a common desire to have different computers connected to each other. Creating the Internet required a high degree of information sharing, and its development was guided by a manifesto that was adopted voluntarily by a diverse set of innovators who shared in the common goal.

Networked improvement communities require a shared goal or shared area of interest and require multiple people working, usually independently, toward developing solutions to achieve the common goal—the communities need to agree to share progress with others. The network as a whole then uses what they learn from each member, and this boosts the collective knowledge of all participants and gets the entire community closer to achieving the shared goal. This is how breakthroughs are most likely to occur.

Forward-thinking organisations across health care, education, technology, and other sectors have created Networked Improvement Communities to boost innovation. Understanding and implementing these innovation communities in your organization can enhance your ability to develop significant new offerings that can change the world.

Take that time for yourself. Just enjoy the silence or do some meditation. If the fancy takes it, jot some things down or paint your wall or discuss within yourself how the world might be a better place. It is in these moments that we find clarity, unexpected solutions and a childlike wonder at how we ourselves are all we need. Let your imagination take you there. Don’t force it.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:





Recruiting Top Talent – A Hidden Gem during the Pandemic?

Many potential new hires who have applied for, been interviewed for, or even been offered a new position are now in limbo. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of social distancing, self-isolating and the majority of people working from home, recruiting and hiring at this time and even afterwards, will pose its own challenges. The steps that HR departments or hiring managers have to take in order to avoid losing out on top talent and boosting their employer brand will determine the future of most businesses post coronavirus outbreak.

Will this outbreak turn the remote workforce into the new reality we all sensed it could become? Should hiring managers and employers invest in top of the line digital interviewing tools? Are they using their time in lockdown to create a unique business advantage? Even though this is an unpredictable and overwhelming time, it could very well be the perfect time to dust off ideas that would normally take a lot of time to put into practice or simply open the mind to new and exciting ideas.  At the same time, there’s never been a better time to assess your organisation to help you to prepare for life after COVID-19, including the people within it.

Recruitment is a topic many businesses are not even thinking about right now, and it’s even more difficult to plan which roles you’ll be ready to fill when the pandemic is over. However, there is a way you can ensure that when you can hire, the best people are ready and waiting.

Building a pool of suitable candidates interested in working for you, can be done through smart recruitment marketing, social media and digital campaigns. A talent pool is almost a queue of candidates ready to step into roles which include a wide range of skills and people at different stages of their professional career. In a world of data-driven recruiting, talent pools are more useful than ever before.

According to The Economist, 4/5 of CEOs worry about skill shortages, while outside hiring at the top reached record highs, causing business for large global search firms to increase by 9% to 15% last year alone.

Nowadays companies are laying off workers and downsizing as we speak. Some industries are simply collapsing. It seems that an unprecedented number of people, all over the world, from new graduates to seasoned veterans, will be looking for new employment. At the same time the ‘war’ on top talent may recede for the time being. As companies revisit and rethink their international strategies and business practices, workers are recalculating their personal purpose and individual and family priorities, with serious implications for their geographic and work preferences and travel habits.

All of the sudden, the pool of talent has changed and expanded, whilst leaders have to prepare companies and organisations for recovery and regrowth.

A Lesson In History

Throughout history, economic hardships have created windows in which exceptional employees and leaders are widely available for a small window in time. During the late 1940s, many companies were struggling. At HP, business was slow and finances strained. But as legions of great engineers came out from of closing U.S. military labs, HP’s legendary founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard figured out that they couldn’t let such amazing talents pass them by. When asked how they could afford to keep taking on new people in those difficult years, their answer was simple: “How could we afford NOT to!”  Years later, when asked about their unrivalled success they routinely said that their willingness to invest in talent no matter the external economic climate was quintessential.

Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen considered the benefits of this kind of long-term thinking in an analysis of 4,700 companies across the last three recessions. They discovered that 9% were able to come out in much better positions than they entered because of their “progressive” focus. They did cut back, but were extremely selective about when and where they did so and, more importantly, they continued to make strategic investments. Rather than thinking you’re either hiring or you’re downsizing, they ‘copied’ the HP approach after the war, understanding they could do both things if they were smart about it.

Unfortunately, most organisations make the mistake of uniformly freezing hiring in downturns. During the 2008 global financial crisis, BCG and the European Association for People Management surveyed 3,400 executives, including 90 senior human resources leaders in more than 30 countries, to see how they were responding. The most frequent action was to scale back recruiting. At the same time, survey participants rated the selective hiring of high-performing employees from competitors as one of the three most effective responses to the crisis and the one with the best impact on employee commitment. This irrationality is widespread. Those who stay rational can exploit it.

Talent At the ready

It may seem like an obvious point to begin with but building a talent pool now means that when you can hire again, and hopefully you will be soon, the talent will be ready and waiting for you. By putting in the hard work now, you’ll have a group of engaged and talented candidates ready to contact as soon as roles become available. As they’ve registered their contact details with you, you can be confident that they are interested in working for your business, which give you a head start once it’s back to “business as usual.”

Better quality in hiring

Because you aren’t rushing to fill urgent requirements, using this time to build a talent pool means that you have longer to collate and source the best talent, which is a luxury that is rarely available. With a wide range of individuals and skills to choose from in your talent pool, all of whom are ready to start working, you’ll be able to compare expertise to find the best talent for you.

As there is less rush to fill key roles, it also means you won’t miss out on talented candidates that may miss the deadline by a few days. Instead, you’ll have collated them over the lockdown period, however long that may be.

Fast hirings

It should go without saying but having suitable talent at your disposal will make filling vacancies a much quicker and smoother process. When you’re eventually ready to hire again, it will be beneficial if you can hire talented people quickly so that critical roles can be filled, and your business can return to normal! This will give you more time to focus on growing and rebuilding other aspects of your business, knowing that the recruitment side is very much under control.

Plus, with many people, unfortunately, being made redundant as a result of COVID-19, the sad truth is that the faster you can make a talented candidate an offer, the more likely they are to accept. In the aftermath of a pandemic, people will need employment and crave job security. As much as we hate to admit it, when it comes to the best talent, it may just be the early bird that gets the worm.

Build rapport with the candidates 

The talent pool approach to recruitment is largely candidate-centric, giving candidates more control. It helps you to build long term relationships, giving the candidates a chance to learn more about your business and what you can offer them. They’ll become familiar with your employer brand as they follow you on social media, receive your email updates and even research your business on their own. This makes it much more likely that a candidate will want to work for you, increasing the chances of your offer being accepted. Regular updates and content are essential to maintaining your talent pool; this provides more touchpoints to capture the attention of passive candidates and helps you to build relationships.

Talent pools also encourage two-way communication; unlike standard recruitment practise where the employer holds all the cards, engaging with your talent pool creates opportunities for candidates to talk to you. This improves the candidate experience massively as the recruitment process feels much less lonely and more transparent.

To find out more about how you can build a ready-to-hire talent pool, get in touch with the team at Talent Works International. Our experts can help you to conduct talent attraction campaigns, manage candidate data and most importantly build up and maintain your talent pool ready for when this pandemic is over.

motivate your best candidates

Once you are convinced that you have the opportunity to bring in someone you really want, arrange to have the person speak to senior leaders who can share their love and passion for your company and describe the value they hope to build with the new colleague. Pay can be important but research shows that what truly motivates knowledge workers is a high level of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In these trying times, flexible work arrangements will no doubt continue to be key, as will the chance to keep on learning and growing while working to build something larger than ourselves.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our echnology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo: