Technostress has been defined as the negative psychological relationship between people and the introduction of new technologies. Where
ergonomics is the study of how humans react to and physically fit into machines in their environment, technostress is a result of altered habits of work and collaboration that are being brought about due to the use of modern information technologies at office and home situations.
People experience technostress when they cannot adapt to or cope with information technologies in a healthy manner. They feel compulsive about being connected and sharing constant updates, feel forced to respond to work-related information in real-time, and engage in almost habitual multi-tasking. They feel compelled to work faster because information flows faster, and have little time to spend on sustained thinking and creative analysis.
Craig Brod, a leader in the field of technostress research, states that technostress is "a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner." Some of the earliest technostress scholarly studies in the field of Management Information Systems show that technostress is an undesirable phenomenon spawned by the use of computing and communication devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. Newer empirical research in this field however indicates that technostress has both positive and negative aspects. Research also suggests that technostress is dependent on gender, age, and
computer literacy. Women experience lower technostress than men; older people experience less technostress at work than younger people; and those with greater computer literacy experience lower technostress.
First use of the term
As early as 1984, Brod defined technostress as a “modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner”. Technostress is later considered as the name for mental stress related to technology use, nevertheless including also excessive physiological and emotional arousal.
More recent definitions could refer to physical, behavioural, and psychological strain in response to ICT dependence, to increasing computer complexity, and accelerated ICT-driven work changes. Atanasoff and Venable considered that models and definitions resort to three main categories:
transactional and perceived stress, biology, and occupational health.
Symptoms and outcomes
stress can manifest itself physically. Similarly, there are a number of symptoms of technostress. The
anxiety expressed by those experiencing technostress: insomnia, loss of temper, irritability, frustration and can increase errors in judgement and poor
job performance if not dealt with.
In the 21st century, people equipped with technology at the workplace are most especially those experiencing technostress. People are sitting and facing computer monitors for a longer time which results in physical strain. In the 21st century work environment, people spend hours day at work because it is critical to their security and job satisfaction. However, these demands are becoming increasingly hazardous to their health. In a technological world, providing people with an appropriate and safe physical environment is a necessity. Too much exposure to computer monitors is associated with emotional stress, and people are emotionally affected by technostress in their workplaces.
Consequences of technostress include decreased job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity. A periodic assessment is necessary to check the level of technostress affecting professionals especially the physical and emotional aspects. Managers should organize technology-based trainings for employees to make them comfortable with technologies and awareness of their harmful effects. Technology skills for employees are important to consistently update their technological skills. Institutions, companies, and agencies are needed to employ IT specialists and troubleshooters to maximize system accessibility and provide a level of comfort to the employee.
Physical aspects are eye strain, backaches, headaches, stiff shoulders, neck pain, joint pain, dry mouth and throat, muscle tension, stomach discomfort, keyboard related injuries, chest pain, rapid heart rate, irritable bowel syndrome, increased blood pressure and difficulty in breathing.
Emotional aspects like irritability, loss of temper, having a high state of anxiety when separated from a computer monitor, feelings of indifference, frustration, lack of appreciation, depression, guilt, feeling fearful, paranoia that leads to avoiding computers and negative attitudes.
Psychological aspects are composed of information overload in order to find, analyse, evaluate, and apply it in the right context with resources, underwork and routine jobs lead to frustrations when underemployed or when the work done involves only routine operations, job security, where people have a fear that computers may replace human roles, professional jealousy produced by technological competency, de-motivation due to prolonged periods of any technological activity, uncertainty about job role caused by an increased time working with technology.
There are five conditions that are classified as "technostress creators":
"Techno-overload" describes situations where 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 any time and feel the need to be constantly connected. The regular work-day is extended, office work is done at all sorts of hours, and it is almost impossible to "cut away."
"Techno-complexity" 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-insecurity" is associated with situations where people feel threatened about losing their jobs to other people who have a better understanding of new gadgets and computing devices.
"Techno-uncertainty" relates to short life cycles of computer systems. Continuing changes and upgrades do not give people a chance 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 rapidly and often.
A recent empirical study on technostress reframes technostress by conceptualizing it in terms of a holistic technostress process involving two critical subprocesses: the techno-eustress subprocess and the techno-distress subprocess. This holistic technostress model frames technostress as a process that hinges on individuals appraising environmental conditions as challenge techno-stressors, defined as techno-stressors that individuals tend to appraise as related to promoting task accomplishment, or hindrance techno-stressors, defined as techno-stressors that individuals tend to appraise as a barrier to task accomplishment. The challenge and hindrance techno-stressors are related to positive and negative psychological states in the individual, respectively, and in turn, positive and negative individual and organizational outcomes. The holistic technostress model and its components were empirically validated in the context of healthcare.
"Environmental conditions" represent potential sources of technology-related stressful situations that may interact with any other environmental conditions such as role demands, task demands, interpersonal and behavioural expectations, job conditions, and workplace policies, among others.
The "Techno-eustress subprocess" involves:
"Challenge techno-stressors" are technostressors that individuals tend to appraise as related to promoting task accomplishment. Examples include usefulness and involvement facilitation.
"Positive psychological responses" are positive psychological responses to a technostressor, as indicated by the presence of positive psychological states.
"Positive outcomes" are positive individual and organizational consequences related to the positive psychological state of the individual. Examples include an increase in job satisfaction and a decrease in turnover intention.
The "Techno-distress subprocess" involves:
"Hindrance techno-stressors" are technostressors that individuals tend to appraise as a barrier or obstacle to task accomplishment. Examples include unreliability, insecurity, and overload.
"Negative psychological responses" are negative psychological responses to a technostressor, as indicated by the presence of negative psychological states.
"Negative outcomes" are negative individual and organizational consequences related to the negative psychological state of the individual. Examples include a decrease in job satisfaction and an increase in attrition and turnover intention.
The techno-stressors, psychological responses, and outcomes are governed by three evaluation processes:
An "Appraisal process" is an intrapersonal process through which individuals appraise the technology-associated environmental conditions as challenges or hindrances.
A "Decision process" is an intrapersonal process through which individuals decide how to respond either positively or negatively to the appraised technostressor. This process occurs before the psychological response but after the individual has determined if the environmental condition represents a challenge or hindrance techno-stressor.
A "Performance process" is an intrapersonal process through which individuals decide how to act on their psychological response. This process occurs after the psychological response but before the individual determines his or her outcome.
Technostress can be treated by getting
user friendly software and educating people about new technology and creating better level of reassurance, patience and stability and communication within the job environment. Other option is avoid or restrict use of technology.
Ways to eliminate technostress are conducting stress management activities to lessen and eliminate the problem of technostress such as exercise, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, positive self talk, staying healthy and having healthy diet. Taking frequent breaks from technology, having a schedule, counseling, having awareness of technostress, establishing a teamwork relationship with colleagues may help.
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