Phones. Tablets. Laptops. Ironically, are these obsessions hurting, not helping, real communication?

We live in a technological universe in which we’re always communicating. And yet we’ve sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

Leading author and researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying digital culture for more than thirty years.

She discusses how we behave at work, at home, in politics, and in love – finding ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves.

Along with affecting our social behaviour with family and friends, we also retreat to our screens in the workplace.

Business doesn’t happen face to face as often as some would like. Rather, today’s communication relies on conference calls and emails that make it challenging to get to know your colleagues and business partners.

With so many workers worldwide now working in virtual teams, many business relationships depend on technology. And that’s not a bad thing – just as long you’re using the right technologies in the right way.

Here are some innovative ways in which brands are helping bring back conversation.

The world’s most sociable shoe

Designer shoes company Anatomic & Co has created a shoe that helps you take a break from the digital world, allowing you to connect with those around you in person.

In a world addicted to smartphones and distracted by social media notifications, Anatomic and Co created the world’s first sociable shoe that doesn’t just connect you to the Internet – it disconnects you.

The ‘In Good Company’ shoe allows men to switch off their interfering mobile and social app notifications by simply wearing the shoe.

Anatomic & Co redefined the meaning of “smart shoes” by matching style, technology and connectivity in a meaningful way.

The shoe also allows you to personalise your preferences to make it work around your lifestyle with one simple app.

Unplug without missing out

A new app called Offtime doesn’t just identify your bad habits, it also helps you break them.

The app is designed to let you unplug without missing urgent matters. It lets you whitelist contacts who able to pierce through your downtime, like your spouse or children, but otherwise shuts down apps, calls, texts, and emails.

It can also auto-respond to incoming messages on your behalf, while maintaining a careful activity log of everything you missed while away so you can quickly catch up.

Offtime also provides similar insights about your usage of your phone, as its predecessors did, charting out hours spent on the device, and even detailing which individual apps are the largest time-sucks.

And while in Offline mode, the app is smart enough to identify certain patterns – like someone who dials you six times in a row probably has an emergency and needs to get through.

No emails day

Recently, the 7th annual global ‘No Email Day‘ took place on 7th July 2017.

The proposition is simple enough – avoid email for 24 hours so that you can be more productive, social and collaborative at work.

All other means of communication such as phone, text messages, face-to-face, social media, or handwritten notes are allowed. It’s just email that needs to be avoided.

Realistically not everyone is able to go a full 24 hours without checking their email. However, the main purpose of the campaign is to get people to think about how they are communicating and whether it’s the best way to work or if they are creating more work for themselves and recipients.

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