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It’s 7 a.m. You wake up, consult the phone and watch with amazement the inbox of your email, overflowing with emails from work. Just thinking about it gives you the creeps.
Soon after, your phone rings. This time he’s a friend on WhatsApp “Did not you get that message I sent last night? Were not you connected?” He complains. You should always be online!, he did not say.
If these situations are familiar to you – and are accompanied by a sensation of almost palpable anxiety – you are likely to be a “techno-stressed”.
The technological stress is not new, but it is becoming more common.
Psychologist Michelle Weil and educator Larry Rosen first coined the term “techno-stress” in a 1997 book of the same name, in which they explained how the continued use of technology can have psychological effects, such as addiction.
How does techno-stress affect?
- irritability, nervousness and anxiety
- gastrointestinal disorders
- episodes of frustration
- lack of concentration
- back pains
- sleep disorders and insomnia
“Techno-stress is a real problem and lies in the interaction between the user of technology and technology itself,” explained a psychologist Nina Davis-Millis, who works for the Institute of Technology of Massachusetts (MIT), in the United States.
Davis-Millis said that techno-stress is “the condition resulting from having to adaptto new technologies” or the fact that the technology is “inadequate”.
But at that time the phenomenon had just been born.
More than two decades ago, neither WhatsApp nor Instagram existed, nor were we as connected as we are now .
The dangers of “constant connectivity”
The US giant Microsoft has just published a report on techno-stress based on a survey of 20,000 workers in more than 20 European countries.
The company says that technology distracts employees instead of making them more productive. Only 21% of respondents said they felt “very productive”.
Many of them said that the amount of emails, messages and notificationsoverwhelms them and prevents them from concentrating.
Others, said that the technology used by their company is an obstacle to be more efficient.
“Modern workers have abundant technology at their fingertips,” the document reads. “But that availability does not necessarily translate into impact.”
The eternal updates and notifications in social networks make people less productive, says the technology firm. And the same happens with other factors linked to technology.
According to the software company , “constant connectivity” has certain dangers, and they are related to the expectations that employees must respond at all times to any message.
He called it “labor flexibility” does not help either, because it often goes hand in hand with the assumption that people who work long hours should be more productive.
But, what is the solution?
According to Microsoft’s research, “digital culture” could improve the productivity of affected people and help them better manage those effects.
The digital culture establishes the bases of how a company uses technology . For example, it has to do with the systems and types of software that are adopted and the training that employees receive.
It also implies a number of “support conditions” that allow you to make the most of these tools.
That includes things like the appropriate time frames to respond to an email or ask employees if they are satisfied with the technology they use in their work.
According to the report, in companies with a robust digital culture, around 22% of employees feel more productive.
“You have to take into account the unintended consequences of implementing a technology,” says Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology at the Manchester School of Business in the United Kingdom, and author of several writings on techno-stress.
“We do not want to give up technology because it is very useful for communications, but we have not developed good guidelines on what is productive,” he adds.
According to the specialist, there is a whole new field of study on techno-stress in which the adverse consequences of adopting new computer systems are valued.
The Spanish psychobiologist José María Martínez Seva, author of the book “Tecnosthress: Anxiety and adaptation to new technologies in the digital age” (2011), says that the drawbacks generated by new technologies include loss of personal relationships or information overload .
“In many cases, it makes us more dependent, ignorant and lonely,” he wrote.
Other experts share their point of view.
” Technologies can saturate people and make them less productive because they get stuck in them,” Cooper tells the BBC.
Organizations such as the National Forum for Health and Welfare at Work, in the United Kingdom, say that the constant flow of emails is one of the agents that most damage the productivity of large companies.
That’s why some firms are putting a limit on the number of emails they can send to avoid overloading workers, says Cooper.
“Productivity comes from creative exchange, it does not work when people sit in front of a machine to send emails .”