Digital Demons: How Negative Digital Culture Impacts Workplace Productivity and Wellbeing

26 March 2024

Digital solutions form the basis of how most organisations operate. They are seen as something that fosters productivity and performance, and that should propel organisational success.  But, what if the […]

Digital solutions form the basis of how most organisations operate. They are seen as something that fosters productivity and performance, and that should propel organisational success. 

But, what if the opposite is true? What if the digital solutions used within an organisation are actually leading to overwhelm, burnout, reducing productivity and performance, and negatively impacting the wellbeing of your employees? 


What Is A Negative Digital Culture? 

A negative digital culture exists when the digital solutions used within organisations impact employees’ productivity, performance, and wellbeing. 

A culture can become negative for a number of reasons: 

  1. Digital Disruption

The average office worker is interrupted every 3 minutes, yet it takes 23 minutes on average to regain full focus on a task (University of California, 2008). As a result, we never achieve full focus! 

With constant interruptions from emails, Teams chats, and other digital notifications, performance and productivity are negatively impacted. This also leads to a loss of focused time, an inability to complete all tasks, and overwhelm and stress for employees. 

  1. Digital Presenteeism

While the flexibility of modern technology enables employees to work from anywhere, anytime, it has also blurred the boundaries between work and personal life. The urge to stay connected leads to employees logging in during their downtime, at the loss of precious leisure and family time. This “always-on” culture can lead to stress, burnout, and diminished performance. 

  1. Digital Burnout and Overwhelm

Learning new solutions, knowing which to use when, lack of sufficient training, and too many digital solutions in use can all lead to burnout and overwhelm. 

Spending all day staring at a screen can also have a negative impact on wellbeing, sleep, anxiety, depression, and stress. With employees staying switched on for longer and longer and more digital solutions in use, this can have a negative impact on productivity, performance, and overall wellbeing. 


Improving Digital Culture in Your Organisation…


The first step to improving your digital culture is understanding the current situation and identifying areas in which improvement may be required. 

Further actions can then be taken to move towards a more positive digital culture. Those steps could include: 

  1. Turning Off Notifications

Interruptions from notifications can lead to a lack of productivity and performance, as well as causing stress and overwhelm. Turning off notifications and time blocking activities, such as email management and responding to Teams chats, is a great first move to regaining control of your working day. 

  1. Establish Working Hours Boundaries

Creating a ‘working hours charter’ that states that working outside of hours is discouraged, with a focus on wanting employees to enjoy their free time, is a great step towards reducing presenteeism. This may require an additional step in understanding why employees are unable to complete all tasks during the working day. 

  1. Encouraging Switch Off Time

Breaks during the day allow the opportunity to step away from screens. Encourage employees to get outside during lunch breaks and take the opportunity to get fresh air, exercise, and time away from screens. 

  1. Role Modelling by Leaders

When leaders log in outside of hours or work through their lunch, employees may feel that this is required to excel within the organisation. It is essential that leaders are the role models in creating a more positive digital culture, and that they take these actions to improve their own wellbeing and performance. 

  1. Focused Digital Culture and Wellbeing Training

When leaders and employees gain a greater understanding of the impact of a negative digital culture and the steps that can be taken to improve it, it can have a profound impact on actions being taken and culture change. 

What actions are you going to take in your organisation to improve the digital culture? 

Sam Flynn is a digital culture and wellbeing trainer, coach, and speaker. She works with organisations to improve digital culture, performance, productivity, and wellbeing.

You can find out more about Sam and her workshops at 


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