While digital technologies exponentially increase our ability to connect, this comes with an unfortunate side-effect. Have you ever felt that feeling of always needing to be connected to your device? This feeling is familiar to many, and it is a result of an Always-on Culture, where everyone expects everyone else to be available and online constantly. One solution to counter this unintended cultural shift is a proposed Right to Disconnect. The Right to Disconnect suggests that it should be a human right for people to disconnect from work and not engage in work-related electronic communications during non-work hours.
We all have a Right to Disconnect, especially when called to wanderlust, but sometimes there’s a catch. That right can often come with the responsibility to communicate before you disconnect. You wouldn’t up and go on a travel adventure without telling your most important people when and where they can reach you, but communicating via digital technology is not always effective.
A digital filter occurs with the weakened transmission of visual and auditory information during communication on digital devices. Nonverbal cues such as body language and eye gaze are especially vulnerable to being filtered out when using digital devices.
A great tool you can use to let other people know when, where, and how you will be communicating is a communication charter. A communication charter is a set of guidelines you can use to foster conversations and understand digital communications.
You create a communication charter by listing each person’s name in the team, whether it be work or family members or another group. Next, discuss which shared core values will help guide your communication and collaboration. Since everyone has different needs, a great practice is to set expectations on digital boundaries. What are each individual’s working hours, and when are they available or not available to talk? Next, write down how people prefer others to reach them. Finally, discuss accountability and what to do when issues and exceptions arise.