What is Technostress?
Technostress is a serious condition that is causing health and wellness concerns in the workplace. There is not a simple prescription for a cure for Technostress, but there are ways to manage it to reduce the symptoms.
TechnoStress makes for aching wrists at the end of the day. The aches are a physical warning sign, but they come coupled with an emotional inability to close Candy Crush and power off you phone before you’ve levelled up. Your neck or back might hurt due to softening abdominal muscles from sprawling on the couch while balancing your lap top or tablet while watching a movie with your partner. You might have stomach issues or suffer from headaches while feeling that you have to stay on top of every detail all the time.
TechnoStress is both physical and psychological. While the study of ergonomics reflected in office and home furniture design has been hugely innovative in recent years, it has been outpaced by the rate new technologies enter our lives. As we adopt each new technology, we adapt to it automatically but in the complete absence of supports for those adaptations. We don’t plan to check email or status updates during dinner, but when the notification buzzes we often check in automatically.
And it goes further. If you’ve scrolled through emails while waiting for the spin cycle to finish and updated your social media status while dinner is cooking, you’ve probably experienced what two authors call multitasking madness.
“We have fallen into the trap of, because we can, we do. We can find ourselves unable to think clearly and we become forgetful and incapable of having a restful sleep as the stimulation from the overload keeps our brain working overtime,” say Michelle M. Weil, Ph.D. and Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D in their book on TechnoStress.
To deal with TechnoStress, we need to identify when and how it is happening. Then, we need to change both our behaviours and the spaces we live and work in to support those changes. Not using technology is not an option for most people and, as we all know, the technology itself will change soon enough anyway.
The changes have to be both psychological and physical. Agility and flexibility are keys to the cure.
“The speed of change is so fast and evolution is so quick that we need to embed flexibility,” Workplace Principal and Senior Designer Kay Sargent told Office Space. “We need to create spaces that are agile and we need to be willing to go back and to continually assess and determine what’s new with technology, in the business world, with the sharing economy, and evolving demographics that is going to impact our workplace and then you have to be willing to adjust and tweak to accommodate those shifts.”
The WELL® certification program guidelines make recommendations for employers to support healthy sleep habits for their employees.
90 Healthy Sleep Policy:
Part 1: Non-workplace sleep support
- For non-shift work, introduce organizational cap at midnight for late night work and communications
- Provide employees with a 50% subsidy on software and/or application that monitor daytime sleep-related behavior patterns such as activity levels, caffeine and alcohol intake, and eating habits.
Germany recently introduced a national policy to support the fight against Technostress. The German labour ministry made a national policy banning out of hours working. The guidelines state that only work can be done after hours if it cannot be postponed to the next day. Firms such as Volkswagen, BMW, and Puma are supporting these guidelines within their organizations.
None of this means being anti-technology, anti-social media or any other kind of resistance to innovation. Instead, it means finding the best ways to work with technology by building supports for our bodies and minds too.
To learn more about WELLness in the workplace contact Envirotech’s Wellness expert and A&D rep Andy Delisi [email protected]. CEU credit and WELL Building Standard Lunch n Learns also available – Read More