What is digital wellness?

Digital wellness (also known as digital wellbeing or digital health) is the pursuit of an intentional and healthy relationship with technology in the workplace and in personal life. Now that many jobs and everyday activities rely on the internet and digital devices, the goal of digital wellness is for the user experience of these technologies to promote healthy use habits and assist the user in maintaining a healthy lifestyle in their daily life.

For example, these technologies might add productivity features that block out focused work hours and silence smartphone notifications, or alert users when their daily screen time has surpassed healthy limits. Other digital wellness technologies focus on improving the employee experience inside a digital workspace. These digital wellness tools include automation and microapps that eliminate the distraction of routine approval tasks and calendar RSVPs.

Why are digital health and wellness important?

The growing popularity of digital health and wellness is due to increased technology use being linked to mental health issues1, including attention issues and behavior problems. In the workplace, excessive technology usage has also been associated with worker burnout2, suggesting that employers should adopt tools and practices that moderate technology usage to promote healthier life and work.

In addition to mitigating these negative outcomes, focusing on digital wellbeing in the workplace offers benefits for both businesses and employees. The benefits of digital wellbeing include:

  1. Stronger employee engagement and higher productivity: The average business worker uses more than 9 different applications to get work done3. By promoting digital wellness through digital workspace technologies that encourage focus and reduce distraction, organizations can reduce worker exhaustion4  and improve employee engagement and productivity.
  2. Improved employee satisfaction: More than 84 percent of employees identify better work/life balance as essential to job satisfaction5, and digital wellness is an important element of this balance. By adopting digital wellbeing practices like unplugged whitespace time and flexible work arrangements, organizations can improve satisfaction in their workforce.
  3. Better health outcomes: A lack of attention to digital wellness can lead to tech addiction, which is associated with higher stress levels and anxiety6. If workers face burnout from excessive use of technology, they are more likely to take sick days and be less confident at work. By focusing on digital wellbeing, employees can alleviate these risks and enjoy better mental and physical health outcomes.

What is an example of digital health and wellness?

There are a number of best practices to optimize digital health and wellness. Common digital wellness practices include implementing screen time limits, wearing blue-light-blocking glasses to alleviate eyestrain, and muting notifications on mobile devices to prevent constant interruptions. It is also important to maintain healthy habits with physical activity, nutrition, and sleep.

On the organizational level, companies can promote digital health and wellness by scheduling whitespace time on employee calendars. This is designated “unplugged time” when employees can avoid using screens and other digital technology at work, choosing instead to focus on face to face meetings, brainstorming, and other mindfulness activities.

What’s the relationship between digital wellness and digital wellbeing apps and technology?

While overuse of technology has a negative impact on digital wellness, there are a number of digital wellbeing apps and technology designed to support digital health. These digital wellbeing apps encourage users to be aware of their relationship with technology, and offer tools and tips to help users use digital technology more deliberately.

For example, digital wellbeing apps and technology can tell users how many hours of screen time they’ve had over a set period. If screen time has increased beyond the user’s average or healthy limits, the digital wellbeing app can give the user an alert that they should take a break. It’s also common for digital wellness apps to filter out excessive cell phone notifications or messages that can distract a user’s attention.

What technology supports digital wellness?

In addition to the digital wellbeing apps and technology mentioned above, modern digital workspaces have AI and machine-learning technology to support digital wellness at work. These intelligence tools learn how employees do their best work and optimize their workspace to fit by intelligently routing them to the apps, data, and tools they use most often. This brings together all the apps and files that an employee needs in one unified workspace, minimizing distractions that can have a negative impact on digital wellbeing.

To further promote digital wellness, these modern workspaces can also use microapps to streamline and automate simple work tasks. This promotes digital wellness by allowing employees to focus on meaningful work instead of being interrupted by requests to approve routine expense reports or RSVP for calendar invites. Employees can also customize how the automation and microapps respond to different requests to ensure the AI feature is making the right choices. This can improve stress levels and anxiety at work while helping workers to get more meaningful work done in less time.