Time to put down the devices if you really want things to look up

Mental health. It’s time to put the devices down. It’s time for us to look up, and it’s time to reset.In 2022, data from Statisica revealed UK users spent an average of 4.25 hours per day using their mobile devices. A different Statistica survey found that 31 percent of UK social media users aged between 16 and 24 years reported spending between 1-2 hours per day using TikTok, while 25 percent reported spending between 3-4 hours per day on the social video app.

That’s a lot of screen time, but data I wasn’t necessarily surprised by having often travelled on the train into university in 2017 – 2020. I was always shocked at how many people were looking down at their phones on the commute rather than looking up and taking in their environment. And nobody was communicating with one another. This is when my idea of a digital detox zone was born.

Architects and Designers recognise that human experience and technology are necessary considerations for a well-functioning office environment. But our human experience is at risk of being nullified as excessive technological exposure takes hold. Creating a digital detox zone could be the answer.

How a digital detox zone compares to ‘Quiet Pods’, ‘Sleep Pods’ and ‘Breakout Areas’

A digital detox zone is a designated area within the workplace which is technology-free — all phones, tablets, computers, and other devices are left within lockers. When someone steps into the digital detox zone, they are encouraged to leave the experience of the office behind them and focus on their wellbeing.

Technology is something we can’t fully abandon, but we can use it to help aid these spaces. The use of light, colour, texture, sound and biophilia creates an immersive experience, a wellness-focused environment where a sense of tranquillity and calmness can awaken senses. This space would feature individual pods, grouped seating, activity areas, green walls, whiteboards, pens and paper, and a refreshment area. The aim is to encourage individuals and teams to decompress and disconnect from technology.

Components such as copper, wire mesh and metal plates would be used in the construction of the digital detox zone innovating on a new version of the Faraday Cage, a container that blocks out electromagnetic radiation from across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Wellness in the workplace must be central to the design of future office space. Incorporating a digital detox zone is a low-cost solution which has the ability to benefit occupiers, building managers, and landlords, while offering up an idea which is extremely scalable. This type of zone can also help re-educate and change the mindset of the workforce by forcing them to look away from devices and, quite simply, think and ponder.

We can create a safe space that individuals and teams can use to decompress without judgement and alleviate anxiety, stress and other symptoms caused by the bombardment of technology in our daily lives.

It’s time to put the devices down. It’s time for us to look up, and it’s time to reset.

This comment appears in issue 17 of IN Magazine