- Virgin Management, the investment and brand licensing part of the massive Virgin Group, has added another link in its effort to support employee health and wellbeing - giving them a weekly two-hour break from email, according to the company. The Virgin Group will officially announce its "Digital Detox" effort as part of its Disruptors event, which happens Monday in London
- Virgin Management made some headlines two years ago when all 200 of its employees in New York and London received unlimited leave. Then it moved to enhanced shared parental leave, giving parents, including adoptive parents irrespective of gender, up to 100% of their basic salary over a 52-week period. Digital Detox represents stage three of Virgin's mission to ensure all employees achieve a better work/life balance, the company said in a press release.
- With Digital Detox, which takes place every Wednesday morning for two hours, all emails are shut down and no access is granted for the time period. According to Virgin Management, the move is designed to encourage employees to spend more time communicating with colleagues, stop focusing on the inbox and step away from the desk.
US employers and HR leaders today are struggling to find the right balance between high-touch and hi-tech, that's been the case since technology came to the HR space. The Virgin Management concept here looks like a small step in the right direction for achieving that balance. Of course, observers might wonder if apart from shutting down email to "detox" workers from the digital experience, does the initiative also include smartphones, desktops computers, tablets, etc.? That would be a real detox.
There also is fresh research that shows smartphones at the desk can be productivity-crushers, so the Virgin idea, again, is at least an attempt to try and get employees collaborating and socializing, and in time it may stop them from worrying about what the next inbox arrival might be. The bet here is the first thing employees do after the detox period ends is go in and check on all those emails that have piled up in the interim. Even so, HR leaders might want to explore ideas like the digital detox.