Technology - is it ruining your life?

Technology - is it ruining your life?

Technology touches every part of our lives. From dating to banking, from making social plans to applying for a job, from photographing memorable moments to reading the news, there is almost no aspect of our life that hasn’t been digitised in some way.

This can be an incredibly positive thing, allowing us to keep in touch with family members on the other side of the world, meet new romantic partners or work flexibly and remotely while maintaining a good work-life balance, but it has a dark side too.

As many as 46% of Australians report that they are ‘addicted to their phones which is worrying when we consider that studies have shown a link between increased technology use and negative mental well-being.

And while our relationships with technology are always changing, one place where technology use has changed most drastically in the last few years is the one place where we might have the least control over how we are expected to interact with it: the workplace.

How has technology use changed in the workplace?

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced us all out of offices and into our homes across the world, many workplaces had to very quickly rethink the way they use technology. Companies that had previously insisted that working from home was not possible had to get their heads around how to make it work.

Tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom rapidly became sites of office communication and collaboration and some of us even found ourselves adopting new lingo as a result (who knew that ‘Zoom-fatigue’ would be a thing, and who among us would ever want to hear the term ‘virtual happy hour’ again?).

In 2022, the way we use technology in the workplace has changed completely since our pre-pandemic days. In fact, almost 70% of Australians who have been working from home since the pandemic would like to continue doing so. And flexible and remote jobs are more popular than ever.

Increased use of technology, for example, hosting meetings via Zoom and collaborating on shared projects via tools such as Teams and Trello, has allowed greater flexibility in the workplace, helping many people to find a healthier balance between their personal lives and their work.

Technology at work - the pros

There are some positive aspects to the evolving use of technology at work. The increased use of digital tools has allowed people to take jobs that they might have previously been unable to do due to geographical barriers.

Working from home has also helped the workplace to become more accessible for some people with disabilities. Employees living with chronic illnesses often find lengthy commutes and busy office environments to be exhausting and this often prevents them from being able to work comfortably and effectively. Working from home allows people to take breaks as and when they need them and create a comfortable working environment that best suits their own needs.

Another positive outcome of this online style of working is that it allows employees to be a lot more productive. When meetings are hosted on Zoom or Teams, it completely cuts down on travel time between meetings, allowing people to fit a lot more into their days.

As long as there is a good understanding and a reasonable agreement as to how these digital tools will be used in the workplace, technology can be an empowering and positive solution for both employers and their teams.

Technology at work - the cons

On the other side, while many of us enjoyed the move to working from home, reducing commuting hours and allowing for more time spent with the family, for many, things weren’t so simple.

For those employees who don’t have a comfortable home office setup, working from home can actually become very restricting and challenging. Employers must remember that their team members do not have equal access to technology in the home, so if they are encouraging flexible or remote working, they must also ensure that employees are adequately equipped with any computers or phones they need to do their jobs well.

Additionally, digital software has enabled easier communication between colleagues, but it can go too far. Though the commute to the office is never fun, it does create a barrier between an employee’s home life and their work life.

When working from home, people can often find themselves checking their emails before even getting out of bed in the morning and working well beyond the time that they would have usually clocked out and headed home. In fact, it’s been reported that some employees worked up to three additional hours each day while working from home during Covid-19.

This isn’t helped by employers and managers who tend to send work emails or messages outside of office hours, preventing their team from being able to properly ‘switch off. If this sounds familiar, then you might need to consider setting some digital boundaries.

Setting digital boundaries

Setting a digital boundary means clearly and calmly communicating with your employers and your teammates what is and isn’t comfortable for you when it comes to communicating online at work.

For example, if you are regularly sent work-related messages outside of office hours, even if you are not expected to reply to them immediately, this is likely to affect your ability to relax at home and you should let your colleagues know that you would prefer them to wait to send the message the following morning.

Or, if you struggle to do focused work with instant messages pinging through from Slack or Teams, you might want to let your team know that you prefer to turn your notifications off at certain times during the day and that they should either contact you outside of these hours or phone you if it’s an urgent issue.

A healthy workplace environment will support and encourage digital boundaries and support you to work productively and comfortably whether at home or in the office.

Is your workplace digitally toxic?

If you find that your employers and teammates still do not respect your digital boundaries after you communicate them and continue to use technology in ways that overwhelm you, this is a toxic working environment that could ultimately drive you to burnout.

It’s important to work for organisations that support your emotional and physical well-being at work. If you’re looking to leave a toxic workplace and find a role in a team that will respect your digital boundaries, speak to a member of the Conquest team today.

tags: HR Industry, Technology, Work life balance


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