Screen Free Wednesdays at IHG

As June 21 approaches and we all wait in hope for a return to our ‘new normal’, it’s time to appreciate the lockdown behaviours and rituals that we’d like to keep.
 
At Induction, we formed many new routines as we sought to help our team create boundaries between the home and office in our new work from home set up. Screen Free Wednesdays was one of our most successful initiatives — and — while it may seem paradoxical for a virtual care platform — a mandated break from our screens is also something of which we’re most proud.
 
Simply put, we asked our team to unplug after 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, and at first, it was much easier said than done. We were just too wed to the dictates of our Outlook calendars, Slack chats and Zoom grids. And, when your laptop is a fixture on your kitchen table or spare bedroom-cum-office, it practically beckons. People felt unnecessary guilt, so senior management had to set the course, stay offline and show teams that stepping away from the screen was not only allowed but modelled and encouraged.
 
Over time, going screen free after 3:00 became habitual; we felt a renewed sense of energy and focus.  They say ‘a change is as good as a rest’, but in the case of Scree Free Wednesdays, the change was a rest — and as a result, the commercial and personal benefits soon followed.
 

As a data-driven company, we sought to measure those benefits concretely, and a survey of our team showed us what we already suspected:

 
  • 87.5% of respondents cited a positive effect on their mood
  • 90.6% of respondents said they had an increased ability to focus
  • 78.1% of respondents noted productivity improvements
 
And while the numbers alone are compelling, personal anecdotes further highlighted that a change in our routines can refresh our attitudes and resolve. 
 
People who used their commute as an opportunity to read — whether about the industry, our competitors, or just for pleasure — reported that they picked up their papers and books again. 
 
People enjoyed the reflective time to plan the week ahead, set personal deadlines and map out new goals as they looked back on their achievements.
 
And, even when customer demands mandated that team members could not avail themselves of a Screen Free Wednesday, people enjoyed a quieter day without other competing meetings and found an opportunity get on top of their to-do lists. 
 
Now that lockdown is set to lift, we do look forward to a time where we can return to an office; where a face-to-face meeting may naturally take us away from a screen and into a room with each other. We look forward to an impromptu chat by the coffee machine or a spontaneous trip to the pub. When that happens, we may not need to enforce a break from our screens. 
 
Until then, however, Screen Free Wednesdays has been a welcome solution — one that has imparted lessons that we intend to keep when it comes to keeping ourselves balanced, energised and ready to meet the many challenges and opportunities that await us in a post-pandemic Healthcare landscape
 
 
James Balmain
Joint CEO
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