‘Work-Life Balance’ in the Digital Age

by Dr Barbara Neuhofer and Professor Adele Ladkin

‘Going off the grid’: Can employees really switch off during travel?*

*Please note that below you can find extracts from the post-event (Digital work-life-balance: ‘Going off the grid’: Can employees really switch off during travel?) which took place on 9th March 2016.

Do we ever switch off our phones? Are we constantly checking emails while we are on holiday? Do we pay more attention to our online social networks that our current surroundings? Should we take a rest from 24/7 connection?  Dr Barbara Neuhofer and Prof Adele Ladkin used the event highlighted above to explore above-listed questions. The event, consisting of two activities, including seven speaker presentations and an interactive panel discussion, sought to understand how technology affects our ability to take a rest from work, and to identify the impact of the 24/7 culture on both individuals and organisations. A consensus formed around the idea that “going off the grid’ was about choice, and included in this managing expectations about acceptable limits to technology use.

See highlights of the event as reported by BBC South Today:

You can see all slides and recording of the event via link:


Why such discussion is needed?

Technologies have had a massive impact on society and transformed how we work, live and experience travel. Social and mobile technologies have particularly enabled people to connect on an unprecedented scale, with any device, anywhere and at any time. While technologies enhance our professional and private lives in numerous ways, there is increasing evidence that people are no longer ‘switching off’. Leisure travel, grounded in the motivation of escapism and the reversal of everyday life, has traditionally had the purpose to switch off, refresh and restore body and mind. What happens however if ‘going off the grid’ is no longer an option in our hyper-connected and work-centred lifestyles? The is a need to debate on changed work life balance realities in a digital world.

Most of us when travelling are enjoying capturing moments and constantly being connected to online circles of friends sharing our experiences. Most of us would say, it is positive impact of embedded digital into our travel experiences – we can in fact share with others our experiences inspiring others to visit places too, similar to founders of #FollowMeTo project, Murat Osmann and his wife and travel experiences partner, Natalia Osmann. FollowMeTo became a social phenomenon inspiring everyone to capture magical moments using a concept of someone welcoming to follow them to the journey/experience showcased in the background of the image. Image below illustrates one of the followmeto images captured by Murat inviting everyone to join the famous couple to Rio.


Capturing digital travel moments: #Followmeto Rio, photographer: Murat Osmann, models: Natalia Osmann and Murat Osmann

Have you taken any of the images using similar concept and sharing it using #followmeto?

But then the event we discussed above was actually triggered to understand is it always good to be connected digitally while travelling? Do we spend so much time on taking images without actually enjoying the journey itself? Moreover, technology does link us back to our ‘home’ life, work, issues we have left at home in order to get away and come back with new strengths. Is switching off is a necessity or a luxury? Claire Steiner talked about technology as a double-sided coin and the challenge of achieving a healthy work-life balance. Alice Rook, a Twitter fanatic, shared her own digital detox experience and talked about the importance of switching off from social media. Sue Thomas talked about the use of devices in the nature and wellbeing in the digital age. A consensus formed around the idea that “going off the grid’ is about personal choice. Everyone needs to manage their own expectations about acceptable limits of technology use. Think whether you need some ‘digital detox’ sometimes?


Technology as a double-sided coin: experience, not snap!, photographer: Mahmut Bolat, model: Elvira Bolat

To find out more about this research and other related studies, contact authors directly (see details via Contributors page).

Read Barbara’s and Adel’s articles:


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