The term technostress was first introduced by the American psychotherapist Craig Brod in 1984 – well before technology dominated our lives. But, according to Joanne Griffen, author of Humology, even before the digital age, Brod described this new form of stress as “a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner.” While it is no longer considered a disease, Technostress acts as a critical multiplier of work-related stress, actively compounding the intensity of existing stressors in life and the workplace.
The causes of Technostress:
- The quick pace of technological change
- Lack of proper training
- An increased workload
- Lack of standardization within technologies
- The reliability of hardware and software
The Five Dimensions/Levels of Technostress are:
- Techno-overload – describes situations where the use of computers forces people to work more and work faster.
- Techno-invasion – describes being “always exposed” where people can potentially be reached anywhere and at any time and feel the need to be constantly connected. As a result, the regular work day is extended, office work is done at all sorts of hours, and it is almost impossible to “cut away.”
- Techno-uncertainty – describes situations where the complex computer systems used at work force people to spend time and effort in learning and understanding how to use new applications and to update their skills. People find the variety of applications, functions, and jargon intimidating and consequently feel stressed.
- Techno-complexity – is associated with situations where people feel threatened about losing their jobs to people with a better understanding of new gadgets and computing devices.
- Techno-insecurity – relates to short life cycles of computer systems. Continuing changes and upgrades do not allow people to acquire experience with a particular system. People find this unsettling because their knowledge becomes rapidly outdated, and they are required to re-learn things very quickly and often.
Coping with Technostress
Technostress can be treated by getting user-friendly software, educating people about new technology, and creating a better level of reassurance, patience and stability, and communication within the Organization. Another option is to avoid or restrict the use of technology – if that’s even possible. But what is possible is setting boundaries with technology.
Ways to eliminate Technostress are to focus on the life portion of the work/life balance. Exercise, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, positive self-talk, staying healthy, and having a healthy diet are ways to reduce the impact of Technostress. In addition, taking frequent breaks from technology, having a schedule, counseling, being aware of Technostress, and establishing a teamwork relationship with colleagues may help.
Technological changes aren’t going anywhere – which means that technostress isn’t going anywhere. Technology as a stressor is genuine, and as the pace of technological changes increases, you’ll likely find some of your work friends stranded on the side of the road. So pull over, show empathy, and remember this: The rising tide lifts all boats.