- Top 11 Negative Effects of Technology in the Workplace
- Job Elimination and worker displacements
- Electronic surveillance and constant availability
- Surveillance and the right to privacy
- Data security and hacking
- Information that takes you to the rabbit hole
- Smart screens and slot machines
- Poor sleep
- Physical disconnection
- Anxiety and depression
- Metrification and alerts
- Zero cost for inclusion
- What Employers Can Do to Reduce Negative Effects of Technology in the Workplace
- Final Thoughts
Without a doubt, technology has dramatically changed the way companies do business. It has extended its impact in the international marketplace and improves the quality and efficiency of daily operations. However, the price of progress has its downsides, particularly the high-value attributed to online communications that are rather impersonal than human interactions. This article discusses a few of the negative effects of technology in the workplace.
Top 11 Negative Effects of Technology in the Workplace
Job Elimination and worker displacements
What are the negative effects of technology in the workplace? The technological progress in recent years is comparable to the Industrial Revolution’s effects in the 18th century. Both movements initiated worker displacements by machines that perform tasks faster and more accurately. Although technology-enabled businesses reduce overhead by minimizing their workforce, workers with obsolete skills have limited employment choices if their jobs are replaced by machines and totally eliminated.
Electronic surveillance and constant availability
What are the negative effects of technology in the workplace? In the past, you can leave the office at 5 o’clock sharp and not have to think about it again until the day after. You’re not expected to take phone calls or respond to messages if you’re sick and on vacation leave. Currently, thanks to email and smartphones the length of the workday has exponentially increased along with your 24/7 accessibility to supervisors and clients. It has blurred the line between work life and home life and may increase your stress level.
Surveillance and the right to privacy
Surveillance paraphernalia such as key cards has increased monitoring of your smartphone and online use in the workplace. It has raised issues concerning employee privacy. This is justified by personal policies that encourage omnipresent surveillance of management as well as processes to monitor and enforce those regulations. Although such measures were established to ensure time and resources are used optimally, employees may think of these safety measures as distrust and get a feeling that they are constantly being observed.
Data security and hacking
The transition to paperless office processes leaves companies vulnerable in two major areas. The first is if there is a power outage, data cannot be achieved unless there are backup files at off-site locations such as cloud systems. Secondly, any type of electronic platform is vulnerable to computer viruses and hacking. Because of this, sensitive records and data are compromised, including client confidentiality.
What are the negative effects of technology in the workplace? Email enabled users to communicate with clients on any part of the planet, but it has also reduced the trust and rapport that is previously generated from face-to-face interactions and phone communications. Even within the same office space, workers often prefer to chat electronically rather than go physically to a cubicle or gather at the watercooler.
Technology also resulted in impatience to get results. In times past, employees and consumers can wait days and weeks for a solution to their concerns. Currently, emails and messages that are unanswered for several minutes create agitation. Lastly, information overload is initiated by workers who may feel the need to forward any message or info they believe to be remotely interesting to their social contacts.
Information that takes you to the rabbit hole
The design of technology removes natural stopping points that keep the user productive. There is an increase of unproductive moments, such as reading low priority emails because they keep popping on the mailbox. There are endless feeds from social media and online sources that mesmerize viewers’ attention. The instinct is to continue paying attention to these and not stopping.
Smart screens and slot machines
A majority of people cannot resist checking into a mobile device that is beeping or buzzing. The message may be important, but most of the time, it is merely spam. Yet people get distracted and are compelled to check it out. Technology masterminds know BF Skinner techniques. Altering and setting rewards for a particular task is extremely effective and causes addiction.
The randomness of rewards that Skinner called the variable ratio schedule had been put to use in the design of technology as embodied in swiping and refresh designs of a majority of mobile applications. Because of this, devices are turned into veritable slot machines giving us incentives to continue paying attention to it for the big prize. To further capitalize on this addictive feature, many well-known social media platforms have changed their algorithms to no longer show feeds in chronological order. Instead, each refresh presents a newly created tailored field that incorporates both old and new info without apparent rhyme or reason for the new order.
When workplace technology is used unhealthily, it can compromise productivity and impair employees’ physical and mental well-being. A few examples are the following:
Being addicted to technology and the always-on culture in the workplace is contributing to shorter hours of sleep. The wakefulness that comes with engaging in work means that you will be less tired during the day, but exposure to blue screen from mobile phones reduces needed hours for optimal sleep. Thus, the nine hours of sleep, which is considered healthy to avoid negative health outcomes, is more difficult to attain.
Technology is having an even more severe impact on social well-being. Although it enables people to engage in relationships across miles and time zones, this sometimes comes at the expense of healthy face-to-face interactions. Since devices are always demanding our attention, real friends and family are often neglected, which has altered the entire social structure. In addition, connection to social media 24/7 can be as rewarding to the brain as cocaine.
Anxiety and depression
Information overload is not only extremely distracting but can cause mental illness. The time we have is limited, but there are limitless information and choices online, which often results in a condition called FOMO, which is fear of missing out. With smartphones and computers consistently alerting as of available opportunities, being double-booked is becoming common and can lead to anxiety. You might want to hop from meeting to meeting or skip one over the other. Checking out other people’s social profiles can also affect one’s mood. In most cases, people only show the positive side of their life, such as glamorous vacations and photoshopped selfies. Every triumph and promotion are cited and glamorized. Thus, people in the dark begin to question their self-worth and are always comparing to others.
Metrification and alerts
Right now, digital technology can quantify previously unquantifiable areas of our lives, which yield insight into how time is spent. On a personal level, we can check our messages and count likes, friends, and followers. On the job, we are greeted each morning with tons of emails and reminders of tasks and meetings ahead. During the day, workers are constantly distracted by streams of email text and messages.
In many cases, these modifications are necessary and may even be helpful. But others do little but distract from important projects, which can undermine productivity rather than improve it. One study revealed that people compensate for distractions by working faster, which results in a twofold price. Individuals experience high levels of stress, frustration, and time pressure. Concurrently the organization often has to deal with decreased employee performance. There are also fewer good business decisions due to less time for examining the advantages and disadvantages and analyzing better alternatives.
The constant influx of messages may result in cognitive scarcity, which is a deterioration of an individual’s ability to synthesize the information optimally. Recent research has revealed that scarcity has resulted in a kind of cognitive impact on individuals. The effect is similar to someone who has a lack of sleep. It raises the issue that poorly filtered information can interfere with a person’s ability to pay attention and make smart decisions and stick to plans. If they try to compensate for distractions by working faster, it only increases frustration and stress levels.
Another impact of technology is choice overload. Individuals who experience this often find it challenging to make decisions unless there are clear information or default options to guide the decision-making process. Without smart decision-making, employees often come up with their own rules. This kind of improvisation can change over time and in every individual and be inconsistent with roles and goals.
Zero cost for inclusion
Virtual interactions offer companies many advantages, such as savings, increased knowledge, and team culture building. Employees also benefit from having to travel less. Their telecommunicating opportunities also increase. But inviting everyone to a meeting can result in a disadvantage. Organizers of meetings choose to err on the side of inclusivity and minimize the risk of leaving someone out. The typical employee often chooses to attend these meetings for fear of missing out on something crucial. The result is a day filled with endless meetings in which a lot is being said, and there are less attention and fewer results. Because of this, there is limited time to complete real tasks at hand, which can reduce the quality of a company’s output.
What Employers Can Do to Reduce Negative Effects of Technology in the Workplace
Use AI to encourage healthier behavior
Artificial intelligence can aid us to better interact with technology and helps us to focus on high-level tasks. Particularly, AI can be utilized to help manage the digital work environment. For example, some email systems now utilize AI to organize emails into categories and mark urgent emails as top priorities. Tech giant Google has even incorporated AI into its calendar application, which can automate schedule for performing crucial tasks but tend to get overlooked since users are focusing on urgent short-term tasks.
On another level, some examples will include an app that can help minimize technology-related negative habits. For instance, one software has a feature that filters certain applications such as social media news feeds. It is a possibility that AI products can be personalized to target stress at work.
Some AI can even perform cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a technique to help individuals know the factors that promote negative thoughts and behaviors and, consequently, identify and encourage positive behaviors. It is a good intervention that enhances emotional well-being.
Encourage productive flows
Employees can build their email and internal system processes to incorporate stopping points in applications, which can help users decide whether to continue with an activity. Reminders have proven to be extremely effective in various situations. Drawing from studies in the consumer realm, some developers are now incorporating new nudging features. Once a user begins to excessively using a resource or data, the smartphone can remind the user that they are about to exceed their data limit. These alerts can remind the user to pause from the flow of data usage. When this concept is applied in the work environments, employers remind or nudging employees to disconnect from emails and messages while they are on vacation or outside of work hours.
Technology can be utilized to maintain positive states of flow and be used as a commitment device to lead us to better behaviors. For example, an application called flow light functions as a traffic light that reminds workers that someone is currently in the zone and should not be distracted. Flow light is based on keyboard and mouse use, as well as the user’s message status. Similarly, Thrive Global is an application that you can set in thrive mode. The response it gives is that you are thriving and will reply later.
Technology has immensely contributed to progress in the workplace. The application of technology helps people to achieve and do better. However, these positive points are only true if the technology is utilized for good outcomes. Technology is a double-edged sword that can result in serious distractions in the workplace. It is crucial to know the negative effects of technology in the workplace and stop it. Fortunately, the solution to these negative effects may also be technology itself: utilized positively and productively.