The Oxford Dictionary Online defines technostress as "stress or psychosomatic illness caused by working with computer technology on a daily basis". Emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, as well as posting on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, are some examples of the technologies that are necessary to keep abreast of within the working hours of business life, and at times beyond.
However, this excessive amount of technology and need to constantly remain connected is causing some workers to get technostress. As well as when working hours are rigid and there is a lack of a working routine, information overload from the amount of technologies that are being used, the pressure of having to have the latest technology and excessive multitasking that is exceeding the limits of the user.
Technostress can leave the user feeling disconnected from the real world and fatigued. This could be either mental or physical fatigue, or even both. Physical fatigue relates to the normal levels of physical ability becoming stunted and mental fatigue relates to feeling sleepy, overtly tired, lack of concentration, being easily distracted, poor judgement and slower reaction times.
It can then lead to an increase in the potential for accidents and injuries within the workplace. This is especially an elevated risk for industries such as construction, where machinery is being operated or vehicles are being driven, because the consequence of the risk could be fatal as a result of poor use of heavy equipment. On a long term basis, this can lead to anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure and depression. Although an HSE officer would have to ensure that hazards related to fatigue are identified, assessed, implemented and reviewed; it is also the responsibility of the worker to ensure that they are fit to work.
There are ways to combat technostress and here are some ideas to keep your workers and yourself in tip-top shape.
- Manage your time - Assess the ways that you use technology, how long you use it for and implement a time limit.
- Exercise - Whilst sitting at a PC or laptop, you may slouch or may not be blinking enough; do some regular exercises such as unclenching the jaw, blinking rapidly, deepen the breath and softening the shoulders to release tension. More often than not you won’t even release how tense you are.
- Take breaks - Taking a couple of minutes every half an hour to look away from the computer can decrease eye strain and is the easiest method to prevent it.
- Hydrate - Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day is essential to ensure optimal brain function and health.
- Sleep - Sleeping for at least 8 hours a night and having a sleep routine may be a good start to combat fatigue and keep your concentration levels at the optimum level.
- Implement boundaries - Ensure that you are able to distinguish between your work time and free time.
- Prioritise your workload - Make lists, set deadlines and maybe complete the tough tasks first, this will permit you to manage your workload in an unruffled manner and may result in a decrease of stress, lack of fatigue and technostress.
It is hard in the 21st century to stay away from technology, in some form, but using the pointers above could prove beneficial to your career, health and personal life.
Could you have technostess? Will you be taking the pointers into consideration? Tweet us @HSE_Jobs.