9 min read

Stress in the age of technology – how did we let devices control us?

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It’s a fact. Technology is starting to get the better of us and the result is not only workplace stress, but home space stress – we’re getting drained.

Why should it be considered poor practice if an email or text is not responded to on the same day, or even the same hour it is received? What’s the hurry?

Why do most of us feel anxious if we have multiple unopened emails, even when they’ve arrived in the inbox within the hour?

Why do we get distracted the very second we hear the ping of a text message?

The result of course is management fatigue, anxiety and ultimately stress. It’s the digital age. We’re all beginning to let technology consume us, whether we realise it or not.

2017 statistics tell us well over 90% of the population own mobile phones and 75% of those are smartphones – in other words, mini mobile computers.

The merging of our workplace into home space and for some, into all facets of life is the not so harmless smartphone. People experience unwanted feelings of anxiety and stress when their mobile phone is left behind or goes flat – we unknowingly miss the persistent beeping, pinging, vibrating and flashing lights. We’re a generation reliant on the constant stimulation.

We have become a telecommunications dependent generation and we’re all tired.

We wake up to our alarm set on our phones

We order uber through the app on our phones

Grab a quick coffee, thank god for apple pay.

Message our coworkers on Facebook

Start catching up on emails during the morning commute

The list might never end.

It’s the digital age. It’s the expectations of the digital age. We’re all slowly becoming slaves to technology that we used to have control over.

A 2017 report taken on over 1000 Australian workers found that,

66% of workers agreed that the workplace is becoming more complex and is changing at a faster rate than ever before - this was as compared to 54% of workers in the 2016 study

85% of workers agree that new and emerging technologies are (negatively) affecting the way work is accomplished and defined, compared to 65% in 2016.

73% of workers feel constantly connected to technology and cannot completely shut off from it — an increase of 27% since 2016.

Senior management are the biggest offenders in this digital age with senior managers expecting middle management to be available 24/7. Middle management in an effort to climb the promotional ladder are only too willing [and expected] to oblige.

With every problem, there is a solution. Like anything though, it takes time to implement new strategies and create new routine habits.

Management must take responsibility of the solution as they are a huge part of the problem.

Start with introducing and encouraging technology business rules/practices:

  • Do not respond to work related calls, texts or emails after 7.00pm or before 8.00am. If possible, set up an auto message to indicate your intended response times / hours of work.

  • Do not connect smartphones to car systems – drive without interruption, calls, texts and emails can wait. This is not only for the wellbeing of yourself, but for the safety of those around you also.

  • Create smartphone settings to only allow certain calls to be accepted at night – family calls, friends calls etc. All others can wait until your dedicated work hours. (A recent study found that restricting smartphone use in the bedroom improved sleep quality, and increased happiness and quality of life.)

  • Give yourself a break on the weekend. Unless your job requires you to be on call on these days, management should encourage and lead by example to ban business communications over weekends.

Technology is growing everyday, and it is here to stay. It is our job to take control rather than let the technology control us.