We live in the era of the indiscriminate and simultaneous use of computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, videoconferences, social networks, surfing the internet … And although confinement and, by extension, the need to telework have returned it with more force than never to the fore, the reality is that the term techno-stress is an ‘old acquaintance’ first coined in 1984 by the American psychiatrist Craig Brod .
At the time, Brod defined it as an adjustment disorder caused by the lack of ability to deal with new computer technologies in a healthy way . The incessant flow of information provided by technology forces people to carry out synthesis and summary processes in an agile way, which contributes to mental exhaustion .
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Despite the fact that during these months teleworking has shown enormous benefits, for example for conciliation, poorly managed it can cause serious health problems for employees, especially in the mental section .
This occurs when the boundaries between work and personal schedules are blurred and blurred, when you cannot disconnect from technology and tasks, neither physically nor mentally … which leads to the appearance of technological stress. “What they call continuous availability, 24 hours almost 7 days a week, has generated enormous problems in physical and mental health in employees whose productivity has been consequently reduced”, alerts Joan Pons, CEO of EffiWork, a solution IT that helps manage work times and warns the employee to disconnect.
What are the most common symptoms of techno-stress in workers? Experts speak, above all, of increased irritability, anxiety, eye problems, musculoskeletal problems, overweight, the appearance of fears and rejection of technology, self-esteem problems due to the perception of inability to face their obligations, frustration, less satisfaction and interest for his work …
What causes techno-stress?
Specialists talk about seven main causes and their possible solutions:
- Permanent digital connection and inability to get away from technology
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As a solution, it is recommended to set breaks and pauses during the established working day, which allows creating routines that will only be effective if they are maintained and respected with discipline. “The goal is to find a healthy balance that prevents stress from taking over our days and lives,” say those responsible for EffiWork.
- Undefined working hours
The solution here is to perfectly delimit working hours and respect the necessary digital disconnection. “If this time demarcation is not clear, it is essential to speak with the company to clarify it. Assertiveness and communication will avoid problems due to differences in expectations between employees and the organization ”.
- Lack of material and computer resources to carry out the work 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. “Also having a software that helps and facilitates the daily management of work and warns when the day is over, exponentially improves the professional and personal conciliation of the workforce, and with it, the well-being of the employees. A benefit that redounds to the company”.
- Lack or absence of specific training to manage telework
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The best solution to counteract this by companies is to invest in instructing teleworkers on the development and optimal execution of remote work: train them in effective project management, task planning, communication in remote work …
- Excessive assumption of tasks and undefined objectives
For specialists it is very common and leads to worker saturation and non-compliance with the planned objectives. To avoid this, the objectives agreed with the higher bodies must be well specified in advance. “You also have to establish the functions and roles of each one in the organization, while flexible hours can be anticipated if necessary. Designing calendars and forecasting the most difficult jobs to avoid delays contributes to meeting times and goals ”, they point out.
- Social and work isolation
“It is the least friendly part of poorly managed teleworking and that has emerged this year due to the inexperience of many in this new remote work reality,” they explain. The solution, as they indicate, is to maintain good and permanent communication with the rest of colleagues and the work structure both for work issues and for other collateral. “By reducing our personal contact at work, it should also be compensated by increasing interaction with other people in our personal, social, family environment …”
- 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 around doing sports or going for walks at the end of the day or during the break.” They also recommend improving 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.”