Technostress is the negative psychological link between people and the introduction of new technologies. Whereas ergonomics is the study of how humans react and physically fit with 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 use of computing and communication devices such as PC's, tablets and smartphones. It 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 computers literacy experience lower technostress.
Symptoms and Outcomes
Psychological stress can manifest itself physically. Similarly there are a number of symptoms of technostress. One symptom of technostress is anxiety. Anxiety can appear as: irritability, headaches, mental fatigue, depression, nightmares, panic, resistance, and a feeling of helplessness.The anxiety expressed by those experiencing technostress can increase errors in judgement and poor job performance if not dealt with. Outcomes of technostress include decreased job satisfaction, organizational commitment and productivity.
The causes of technostress amount to:
- the quick pace of technological change
- lack of proper training
- an increased workload
- lack of standardization within technologies
- the reliability of hardware and software
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 anytime 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 experience at 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.
Technostress can be dealt with. Ways to eliminate technostress are:
- Get adequate, user friendly software
- Create better communication within the environment
- Create a level of reassurance, patience, and stability within the environment
- Maintain an ever-present system of training and education to new and old technologies
- Avoid using technology
- foster sharing of computer related knowledge within the organization.
- A responsive and easily reached help-desk can allay managers’ anxiety and concerns, guide them in using and familiarizing with new computer applications and assure them in case of problems
- keep employees“involved” in the general scheme of things in the context of new computer systems. The more involved and familiar they are, the less techno - stressed they would be.
- encourage people to “experiment” and innovate in the context of computer use
- encourage employees to communicate, discuss, and share their knowledge about computers
Notes and references
- Sami, Lalitha Krishna; Iffat, Rabia (2010). "Impact of Electronic Services on Users: A Study". JLIS.it (University of Florence) 1 (2). doi:10.4403/jlis.it-4523. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
- Brod, Craig. Technostress: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution. Reading, Mass: Addison Weslety, 1984.
- Tarafdar, M., Ragu-Nathan, T.S., Ragu-Nathan, B. and Tu, Q., The Impact of Technostress on Productivity, Journal of Management Information Systems, Summer 2007
- Ragu-Nathan, T.S., Tarafdar, M., Ragu-Nathan, B. and Tu, Q., Consequence of Technostress in End Users: Conceptual Development and Empirical Validation, Information Systems Research, December 2008, 19, 4, 417-433.
- Tarafdar, M, Tu, Q., Ragu-Nathan, T.S and Ragu-Nathan, B.S. Crossing over to the “Dark Side”: Examining Creators, Inhibitors and Outcomes of Technostress, Communications of the ACM (Contributed Research Article), September 2011.
- Ennis, Lisa A. "The Evolution of Technostress." Computers in Libraries, Sept. 2005, 10-12.
- Riedl, R., Kindermann, H., Auinger, A., Javor, A. (2012): Technostress From a Neurobiological Perspective: System Breakdown Increases the Stress Hormone Cortisol in Computer Users. Business & Information Systems Engineering, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 61–69.
- Riedl, R. (2013). On the Biology of Technostress: Literature Review and Research Agenda. The DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 18–55.
- Riedl, R., Kindermann, H., Auinger, A., Javor, A. (2013): Computer Breakdown as a Stress Factor during Task Completion under Time Pressure: Identifying Gender Differences Based on Skin Conductance. Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 2013, Article ID 420169.
- Tecnostress Italian Website: Effects, Laws, Studies, Evaluation, Prevention,
- Assessing and Managing Technostress (a talk given by Richard A. Hudiburg)
- Technostress in Libraries by John Kupersmith
- Technostress and the Organization by Nina Davis-Millis