There’s no doubt about it, technology consumes the majority of our lives nowadays. From smartphones and tablets to 3D printers and virtual reality – technology is rapidly evolving and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. With various technologies being used every day in the workplace it has to be questioned, is this good for us? Does technology enhance or inhibit our health and does it make us better or worse employees?
Tied to work?
Only a few years ago people would leave work and that would be the end of their working day. Now times have changed. With the advances in technology and people having smartphones, some employers expect to be able to reach their staff no matter the time of day. Video interaction platforms such as Skype and FaceTime enable some international employers to conduct meetings at any point in the day to accommodate teams in various time zones. Being constantly reachable could contribute to employees’ stress. A recent study found that extended work availability is linked with decreased calmness, mood and energy levels. Whilst smartphones assist with flexible working, it seems that boundaries need to be established between employees and employers to reduce the chance of stress.
Keeping the workplace healthy
Fitbit devices are a physical activity tracker with technology designed to help users become more active, have a more balanced diet, sleep better and ultimately turn them into healthier people. Businesses use these devices as part of their wellness programmes. Employees can track their progress, inspire each other and compete in corporate challenges. Fitbit have reported that their technology promotes healthy behaviour, creates a sense of community within work and improves employee engagement. Exercise and a healthier lifestyle not only improves employees physical wellbeing but also reduces stress meaning it could lead to a reduction in work absences.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
The rise in computer usage with flat, light-touch keyboards has resulted in widespread hand, arm and shoulder injuries. Using devices such as a mouse over long periods of times doing clutching and dragging motions accumulates these injuries. It is also said that consistently looking down at smartphones and tablets also causes RSI, with larger amounts of younger people now reporting neck injuries. Since these technologies are not likely to be leaving the workplace any time soon, it is important that employers teach employees how to hold the correct posture and positioning whilst using them. Investing in these tutorials will hopefully reduce injury and any related work absences.
Technology can enhance and inhibit our health and work lives. It can assist in making us more efficient and engaged employees but can also increase our stress levels if we don’t establish boundaries and learn to switch off. It is important for employers to implement strategies so that technology is only used to improve employees well-being in the future.
How has technology at work affected your health? Tweet us @OregaCentres to let us know your thoughts.