Overwhelmed workers, hyper connectivity and flexible working

A Program Director working on large infrastructure projects knows that flexible working arrangements can work. She remembers a time when she was on site and there were no mobile devices, no phones no iPads. She would have to trust her team to deliver without having contact with them throughout the day. When putting forward the case for task based working which also comes under the umbrella of flexible working she would ask her peers and leaders the question “do you remember when we didn’t have mobile phones, we would have to trust our teams to deliver, get the job done. We need to get back to that mindset to enable our teams to have flexibility and become task orientated, and ultimately become more focused and productive”

It’s a juxtaposition to what we usually use to argue the case of flexibility. We have laptops, we have mobiles phones, we have connection into the office, and you can access us 24/7. We are setup for flexibility. Is this is a good thing?

“Information overload and the always connected 24/7 work environment are overwhelming workers, undermining productivity and contributing to low employee engagement”, concluded Deloitte researchers following Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey.

Citing background research which found that “people check their mobile devices up to 150 times every day”, the report found that interruptions and involvement in constant and multiple communication flows (“hyper-connectivity”) are minimising employees’ ability to absorb and process information.

So where to from here?

Daily practices to reduce information overload

In the report Deloitte identified four types of company strategies that are being implemented to influence communication and working patterns so as to reduce the overwhelmed employee experience

  1. The use of smaller, agile teams with shorter meetings
  2. Simplifying HR practices and employee systems
  3. Outsourcing or insourcing non-core tasks
  4. Changing work expectations, i.e. email free time

The four strategies are listed on the website with case studies from companies such as Pfizer and Abode.

From my own experience I find meditation works well to ensure your centred and working with purpose on the tasks you need to focus on.

*For the full article and links to the research please go to