Switching off, unplugging, going off-line, social media-free days; as counter-intuitive as it might sound, a growing number of communications professionals are getting off the thunderingly-busy - and at times gridlocked - information superhighway in favour of the quieter back roads.
by Andrew Walker
Both routes still take you where you’re going – while motorway madness might get you there quicker, the more scenic slower route is likely to leave you feeling in a slightly more relaxed frame of mind.
Never has it been more critical for communicators to stay connected – the sheer volume of information across multiple channels means issues come at you faster and more furiously than ever before. The need to quickly catch emerging issues which might impact the reputation of your organisation or customer confidence has never been more acute.
It’s never been easier to stay connected and plugged-in.
How easy is it to switch off and un-plug though?
After 15 years in the world of blue-light and utility communications, I made a conscious decision to switch off more. Regularly climbing to the top of Scotland’s highest peaks became my thing and it’s a great way to get away from it all.
Glens which stretch for miles where there’s no mobile reception… razor-edged ridges where all you can really focus on is not falling off…
Spectacular airy summits with views for miles… and, as I’ve discovered, a clearer 4G signal than you get in the centre of Edinburgh!
During summer 2018 Scotland experienced an unusually hot and dry spell without any rain to speak of and areas suffered from “water stress”. Rising customer usage levels meant Scottish Water took additional steps to ensure supplies were maintained
Special efforts were needed to keep the water flowing to customers in Arran during one particular weekend - a weekend I happened to be 3000ft up climbing. Once the top had been reached I pulled out my mobile for the obligatory summit selfie and realised I had messages from our emergency planning team on WhatsApp. Cue a 15 minute period of messaging back and forth about hiring ferries to take water tankers onto the island and getting photos as social media content.
Swimming is also a favourite way of keeping fit and switching off (and I’m physically separated from my mobile).
All good – until I realised the pool I use has Scottish Water sponsored pop up stands poolside promoting our partnership with Scottish Swimming. They feature Olympic and Commonwealth medallist Duncan Scott, our Learn to Swim ambassador – it’s hard to feel he’s not judging the length of time it takes me to swim 25 metres! And the radio playing on the PA system features our latest campaign advert.
There’s no doubt making a conscious effort to switch off more allows us to stay sharper when we’re switched on, whether that’s going social media-free for a morning, engaging with colleagues in person rather than via Twitter DMs or getting some fresh air at lunchtime.
Andrew Walker is head of communications at Scottish Water and you can connect with him on Twitter at @AJWalker73
image by Andrew