Digitalization is a word we've all been hearing a lot lately. It's
Digitalization won't leave us alone. It sucks away our downtime and lets the stress of work overflow into our personal lives, where it often becomes chronic. We're available 24/7. Laptops are small, light and powerful. We take them everywhere. Because that's what a mobile device is all about - mobility. On vacation we upload our pictures to social media - they're way too special to just stay in the family, right? - and while we're doing that, why not finish that report, send that spreadsheet, or upload that last software patch to the server. That's always-on living.
But people aren't made for that. Always-on and never-off make us sick. We accept it with resignation, hide the exhaustion by calling it a cold, and conceal the burnout behind phrases about "reinventing ourselves." Because just being a person is uncool. Information technology is getting ever more complex. Why shouldn't people be able to keep up? After all, we're the ones who created these systems. But all this has massive effects on health and social life. More and more we see depression, burnout and failed relationships as collateral damage of the digital transformation.
But it doesn't have to be that way!
But this downtime is not plannable like the maintenance interval in a technical system. It can happen that on one day we can work 10 hours straight with no problem, but on another day we're just not up to doing much and really need more recovery time.
If companies manage to accept this and give employees the freedom to take a "human maintenance interval" when they need to, they will stay healthier and perform better over the long run. But this is only possible when everyone trusts each other not to abuse these
We cannot afford not to develop a healthy attitude towards work. Work doesn't mean spending the minimum effort to make the maximum amount of money that we can then use to pay for leisure time in which we do what we enjoy. Ideally, work should be something that is intrinsically enjoyable and fulfilling, and that also happens to make enough money to finance the rest of life's necessities.
Admittedly, this might sound suspiciously like a fairy tale. But our experience clearly shows that just working towards this goal generates positive effects, even if we're not even remotely there yet. The model is not much more than a hiking map that we're starting to use to find new paths.
We need to get away from the anachronistic management methods of the 19th century. There is less and less assembly-line work where input, output and process parameters are all plannable. We're blazing the trail while we walk it, and that sometimes means backtracking a few steps. We need to learn to cope with