One of the work-related negative psychological effects is technostress. Digitalization has radically changed the work environment and in the 21st century, it’s impossible to work without technology.
Many tasks are now automated thanks to tech. With higher expectations, time pressure on getting things done faster, better, and more effectively there has been a steady growth in the use of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).
But there is a dark side to technological progress and its impact on people’s lives is not entirely positive.
Especially now, in the times when many businesses switched to a fully remote work style and employees are surrounded by software, equipment, and thousands of tools.
And because of that, technostress is becoming more common.
What is technostress? What are its causes and symptoms? And how to cope with technostress? Check our guide!
The term ‘ technostress’ was first coined in 1984 by Craig Brod in his book Technostress: The Human Cost Of The Computer Revolution:
“Technostress is a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner.”
In other words, technostress is a negative effect technology has on people. It results in psychobiological reactions such as eye strain, backache, headache, neck and joint pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, being too attached to a computer and other electronic devices, and other emotional, physical, mental, and behavioral disorders.
Too much exposure to computers causes technostress, so people who work with technology experience it most.
Technology is necessary for your work and personal life. And because of that technostress is an inevitable part of your life.
👉 Read also: 15 Negative Effects of Micromanagement and How to Fix It!
What Causes Technostress?
There are different types of techno stressors. Here are several of the fundamental defined in many studies and research papers:
- Techno-invasion – the fast pace of technological change resulting in too much technology both in the workplace and personal life
- Techno-overload – may be caused by increased workload, overworked staff or understaffed workplace with too many tasks, emails, notifications, and tools
- Techno-unreliability – caused by errors, complexity, breakdowns, technical problems; general reliability of software and hardware
- Techno-complexity – lack of proper training, technical support, or poor technical documentation
- Techno-insecurity – being afraid of not staying on the top because of lacking technical knowledge
Other techno stressors may include information overload, too many tasks, emails, notifications, tools, overidentification with technology, or multitasking. They are all caused by the overuse of new technologies.
If you’re noticing some of the symptoms of technostress, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are plenty of people who experience it and it’s normal.
Consequences of Technostress
The term ‘technostress’ is approached in two ways:
- Negative – referring to situations when technology adds workload and causes stress
- Positive – when it reduces workload, automates processes, and improves the comfort of work and personal life
What’s interesting, the causes overlap with symptoms of technostress. So it can be difficult to determine the main techno stressors in your life.
While positive outcomes usually go unnoticed, it’s much easier to spot the negative ones. They highly impact the way we work, perform our daily tasks, and build our relationships with other people.
Here are some of the most common technostress consequences:
- Poor job performance
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Lower productivity
- Nomophobia – the fear of not being able to use your phone and losing connection with the online world, aka FOMO (fear of missing out)
- Lower cognitive abilities
- Higher stress levels
- Poor physical and mental health
- Decreased organizational commitment
- Lack of work-life balance
- Multitasking, being prone to interruptions
These may be different for every individual. If you’re one of the people who find themselves great when affected by techno stressors, that’s great! Use it to your advantage.
But if you’re struggling with the negative emotions and feelings, and distinguish any of the above in yourself, it may be a sign of technostress. But don’t worry, there are ways for coping with it!
How to Manage Technostress?
You may not be able to eliminate technostress from your life. After all, technology is everywhere. But there are methods for coping with technology overload.
It’s time to take care of yourself and your employees! Here are 11 highly effective tips on how to reduce technostress.
Education is the first step to conquering the negative effects of technostress. It can prevent the further advancement of the phenomenon.
If you’re a manager, organize trainings for your employees. Show how things work so people can feel comfortable with different kinds of technology and be aware of its positive and negative effects.
Also, don’t forget to continually take care of employees’ tech skills. Technologies develop rapidly so be sure to keep up with the pace to stay on top.
Digital literacy is necessary to use information and communication technologies (ICT) the right way and effectively.
Educate people to avoid techno uncertainty and avoid the risk of further problems and failures.
2. Have a dedicated IT team
You may have the best software, tools, and equipment in the world. But if things go south, who’s going to take care of all the chaos?
If people need to learn how to fix a technical issue, they’ll spend less time doing the work that really matters. They’ll feel frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed. You can’t afford that.
So have a dedicated IT team that’ll handle all technical and technological issues.
Whether you’re a small business, institution, agency, or even a freelancer, you need IT specialists. They will troubleshoot all problems, improve system performance and usability to make it more convenient for use.
3. Invest in user-friendly software
Employees may experience technostress when dealing with techno complexity. To make it easier, implement easy-to-use software.
There are plenty of intuitive, user-friendly tools that combine different aspects of information systems like project management, task planning, workflow management, processes organization, data management, time tracking, and many more.
That way, you’ll have a unified hub for all tasks, projects, and data about the company, clients, and employees.
With the right software not only can you reduce technostress but also improve communication and collaboration, increase organizational commitment, and automate work.
In the worst-case scenario, you can slowly reintroduce technology that emphasizes healthy use to avoid techno invasion.
4. Practice relaxation
Because technostress has negative psychological effects, it’s important that you take care of your mental health to prevent psychobiological consequences.
Since recently, because of the pandemic, we’ve all been round the clock with technology, it may be difficult to relax. But you can conduct smaller or bigger stress management techniques to lessen the impact of technostress:
- Get rid of external stimuli
- Allow yourself to get bored – the best ideas hit on when you let your brain rest
- Heave a well-balanced, healthy diet
- Exercise regularly to get rid of the physical tension
- Meditate or pray
- Try to be positive and don’t be too hard on yourself
- Take care of your mental health by talking to someone close or find a therapist
- Listen to calming sounds – here’s a nice compilation of The New York Time’s readers sounds they are surrounded by during quarantine
- Make sure to set a healthy sleep schedule that ensures you’re well rested
There are many enjoyable ways of relaxing that allow you to stay away from technology. You don’t have to binge-watch the new season of your favorite show or scroll down the news feeder.
Don’t be afraid to turn off your computer after work or stop picking up phone calls from your colleagues. It’s okay to unplug. Staying connected to technology is harmful to the brain. It slows down cognitive processes, kills creativity, and lowers attentiveness.
So let yourself drift away from the world of technology. Exercise, socialize and meet with friends or attend a local event, take up a hobby you’ve always wanted to pursue.
And limit the time you spend on social media. In one of the research, it was proven that spending time on social media increases the risk of experiencing technostress. So turn off the screen(s) completely and forget about Facebook and Instagram.
And if you don’t know how to unplug, watch to Call Newport, author of the book Digital Minimalism talk about digital detox:
One of the best ways to unplug is to spend time in nature. Jasmin Tahmaseb-McConatha Ph.D. in her article for Psychology Today writes that “a little time in nature is likely to increase our ability to feel that we can, indeed, cope with our day to day stress. (…) Time spent in nature also has no side effects.”
6. Take care of company culture
In many cases, technostress is a sign of poor safety culture. Remember that techno stressors may also have organizational ground. They are generated not only by the wrong use of information technology but also by poor practices.
7. Set work boundaries
Setting work boundaries is much easier if you work in the office. But when you’re a remote worker, it’s much more difficult. You’ll feel the urge to constantly check notifications, always be on, and work as much as you can because… you can.
After all, it seems there’s nothing better than being able to quickly reply to the client’s email or to work extra hours. But sooner or later, you’ll feel burned out. Your brain needs time off, remember?
So set a timeframe for when to be offline and online. Don’t forget about your family, loved ones, and personal time.
Take care of every aspect of your life to keep the work-life balance. Otherwise, you won’t have the motivation to work, will experience information overload, and your job outcomes will be negative.
8. Give the right job to the right people
Technostress is an undesirable phenomenon but it can be positive in certain aspects. Especially, if you hire tech-savvy, smart people.
Some people benefit from techno pressure, enjoy working with technology, and know how to use it responsibly. These include remote workforce, people who are good at time management, self-independent, proactive, and find themselves well in a flexible environment.
9. Pay attention to your feelings
Technostress in the workplace can be easily prevented if you act quickly. So if you feel things are not right, pause and focus on yourself.
Whenever you’re noticing to feel wrong, have negative thoughts, take a break, think, pay attention to what you feel, think, and experience. Why you feel it, what’s the cause?
To recognize technostress listen to your emotions, your body, what why when what situations in you’re feeling the way you feel – understand the state and try to act. Step back from the problem. Ask someone close about their opinion.
Often technostress manifests itself with negative thoughts and feelings, so self-care is the first step to prevent it.
10. Work on time management
Working with technology comes with several pitfalls. One of the most dominant is distractions and time-wasters. That’s why planning and organizing your activities is crucial in the fight with technostress.
Laura Vanderkam in her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think writes:
“The problem is not that we’re all overworked or underrested, it’s that most of us have absolutely no idea how we spend our 168 hours.”
How about you? Do you know how you spend your time? You will be surprised how much of your time you dedicate to digital devices. According to studies, Americans dedicate nearly 11 hours a day to screen time.
Be better. Audit your time, learn how you spend it, what takes most of it, learn effective time management techniques. You can use planners, productivity apps, project management software to plan and manage personal tasks and team workflow.
Time management can be fun. There are plenty of enjoyable ways to organize your day. You just need to find the right one for you. The outcomes will be great – you’ll improve mental health, job satisfaction will skyrocket, and you’ll finally be able to do all the great things you’ve always wanted to do!
11. Review organizational processes
Technostress within a company can be caused by poor organizational practices. So review processes and procedures to spot the flaws.
It can be helpful to think about such aspects as:
- Employee autonomy – are you micromanaging your employees, watching their every step, or are you and your team working together on eliminating bad practices?
- Automation – is the technology used in your organization helping to optimize workflow?
- Workflow organization – are all departments collaborating and communicating effectively?
- The wrong use of technology – are you using the right tools and technologies suitable for business needs and model?
- Digital transformation – is the technology helping people and business grow or is it slowing things down?
- Business relationships – what are relations with clients, stakeholders but also with employees? Is your technology helping to shape them in a positive way?
- Risks and opportunities – are you managing risks to avoid problems, looking for opportunities to help technology grow your business?
The growth of new technologies means redefining your procedures. The tech world evolves fast so you need to react quickly to adapt to the changing environment.
Wrapping It Up
Technostress is going to be on the rise so it’s a good idea to learn how to manage it to avoid burnout. Technology is there to help us, not slave us. So make sure you’re using technologies in a healthy way, be responsible, and turn off your smartphone. 😉
Do you have your favorite strategies for coping with technostress? Let us know in the comments!