Managing the Terrors of Technology
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
In 1985 a journal article was published, it detailed the International Labor Organisation examining the impact of technology on workers and indicated that the experts agreed that technology can both increase or decrease work-related stress depending on how it is used. (Linsenmayer, 1985) Advances in technology have affected the workplace, especially in the last 20 years with the emergence of the internet, digitalisation of communications, online payment systems (EFTPOS), electronic shopping, robotics, and automation has led to many changes in how we work. Recently COVID-19 has forced many of us to work remotely from our homes and we are now more reliant on technology for work, socializing, and to accommodate our everyday needs, such as shopping online. Now, if you are proficient in technology and can cope with basic troubleshooting this might be a relatively smooth transition for you to make, however, for those who are new to using or are less proficient in the use of technology this could be an extremely daunting and stressful time.
Reliance on technology in instances where it does not work as intended can also create a source of stress and frustration. Often when working remotely, reports of connectivity issues, inability to access networks, and shared drives, or other technology glitches are not unusual. Another source of stress that comes with technology, is the blurred lines between work and home time, with greater numbers of people working from home there is a risk of working outside normal operational hours or working overtime. It is important that a work-life balance and routine is maintained. Employers can assist workers to reduce the stress of using technology by; - Keeping the required technology needed as simple as possible If technology is overwhelming, having several applications, software programs, and set-up accounts will only add to the burden. Think about what is the minimum requirements to get the job done and what is the easiest way to deliver this. - Ensuring the right equipment is available Providing your workforce with the equipment (laptops etc) or offering to support the configuration of workers' personal equipment with the settings and software that will be required when they are working remotely will help workers get started and reduce set-up stress. - Providing technical support Being able to reach out for help before becoming stressed and overwhelmed is really important. Employers can engage in-house or external IT support staff to provide telephone or online support to workers to help navigate any issues. - Training Often stress related to technology is associated with a lack of understanding about how it works. This can be combated by providing workers how-to manuals, videos, and info sheets about the types of technology in use, set-up, use, frequently asked questions, and common troubleshooting tips. - Communication Check-in regularly with workers to check that things are running smoothly, reassure them that any technical glitches or issues can be discussed and worked around. Consider recording zoom meetings or work discussions so that these can be accessed later if for some reason a worker cannot attend at the time. This will all assist in reducing stress if the technology is not working as it should. - Monitor Work Hours Maintaining reasonable working hours is extremely important. Whilst working from home allows more freedom in some ways it can also encroach into our personal time. Ensuring that meetings are scheduled during normal operating hours, consultation with workers on workload demands, renegotiating deadlines, and actively discouraging emails at 2 am can all help workers to find balance. Hopefully with the right planning and support technology terror will make way to technology triumphs!