We live in the era of indiscriminate and simultaneous use of computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, videoconferencing, social networks, surfing the internet… And although confinement and, by extension, the need to telework have brought it back into the limelight more forcefully than ever, the reality is that the term technostress is an ‘old acquaintance’ coined for the first time in 1984 by the American psychiatrist Craig Brod.
At that time, Brod defined it as an adjustment disorder caused by a lack of ability to deal with new computer technologies in a healthy way. The incessant flow of information provided by technology forces people to perform synthesis and summary processes in an agile manner, which contributes to mental exhaustion.
In spite of the fact that during these months teleworking has demonstrated enormous benefits for example for the conciliation, poorly managed it can provoke serious health problems to the employees, especially, in the mental side.
This occurs when the boundaries between work and personal schedules are blurred and blurred, when you can not disconnect from technology and tasks, neither physically nor mentally … which leads to the emergence of technological stress. This so-called continuous availability, 24 hours a day, almost 7 days a week, has generated enormous physical and mental health problems in employees whose productivity has been reduced as a result.
What are the most frequent symptoms of technostress in workers? Experts speak, above all, of increased irritability, anxiety, eye and musculoskeletal problems, overweight, the appearance of fears and rejection of technology, self-esteem problems due to the perception of inability to cope with their obligations, frustration, less satisfaction and interest in their work?
Specialists talk about seven main causes and their possible solutions:
1. Permanent digital connection and impossibility of getting away from technology
As a solution, it is recommended to set breaks and pauses during the established working day, which allows the creation of routines that will only be effective if they are maintained and respected with discipline. The goal is to seek a healthy balance that prevents stress from taking over our days and lives.
2. Unlimited work schedules
The solution here is to perfectly delimit work schedules and respect the necessary digital disconnection. If this time demarcation is not clear, it is essential to talk to the company to clarify it. Assertiveness and communication will avoid problems due to differences in expectations between employees and the organization.
3. Lack of material and computer resources to do the job properly.
According to experts, this is the cause even of physical injuries in teleworkers and can be avoided with the organization of a healthy workspace with the necessary means for physical and mental well-being. Having software that helps and facilitates the daily management of work and warns when the day is over, exponentially improves the professional and personal reconciliation of the staff, and thus, the welfare of employees. A benefit that benefits the company.
4. Lack or absence of specific training to manage teleworking
The best solution to counteract it on the part of the companies is to invest in instructing the teleworkers on the development and optimal execution of the work at a distance: to train them in the effective management of projects, planning of tasks, communication in the work at a distance …
5. Excessive assumption of tasks and not defined objectives
For the specialist it is very common and leads to the saturation of the worker and to the non fulfillment of the foreseen objectives. To avoid this, the objectives agreed with the superior bodies must be well specified beforehand. It is also necessary to establish the functions and roles of each person in the organization, while flexible working hours can be anticipated if necessary. Designing calendars and foreseeing the most difficult jobs to avoid delays helps to meet deadlines and goals.
6. Social and work isolation
It is the less kind part of teleworking badly managed and that has surfaced this year due to the inexperience of many in this new remote work reality. The solution lies in maintaining good and permanent communication with the rest of colleagues and the work structure for both work and other collateral issues. As our personal contact at work is reduced, it is also convenient to compensate it by increasing the interaction with other people in our personal, social and family environment…
7. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of external stimuli
The remedy in this case is more sport and better nutrition. If you no longer take public transport or do not walk to the office, you have to move by doing sports or going for walks at the end of the day or during the break. It is also advisable to improve the learning and reinforcement of emotional intelligence or the so-called soft skills, which will help to better face challenges and situations. In general, exercising self-discipline, self-control and effective time management will improve our day-to-day teleworking.