WHEN I moved to my pad several years ago, I neither had a television set nor a telephone line. The idea was for me to have more time for reading and listening to music. So instead of buying a TV and DVD set, I spent my money on Murakami and Ishiguro novels, short story and poetry collections, music CDs, and a few art works bought during my travels.
And since the condominium is located just beside the university I worked in and there were computer shops all around, it was easy for me to get access to the internet whenever I needed to check my email or do other stuff online. My reasoning was basically like this: office is for work; home is for rest and relaxation.
Everything went according to plan. Until Samsung’s wonderful android phone, coupled by Globe’s generous unlimited-surf plan, entered the picture. Suddenly, I found myself surfing the web, playing games, updating my Facebook status, and watching YouTube videos of my favorite “The Voice” contestants, even past midnight. Consequently, I felt compelled to read, and sometimes respond to, email messages sent by my bosses and colleagues even late at night. Technology had invaded my ‘personal life’.
Techno-invasion is a situation in which individuals are “always exposed” and can be potentially reached anytime wherever they are. As a result the regular workday is extended, and office work is done even late at night or early in the morning. There is no clear distinction anymore between an individual’s personal and professional life. For people who could not manage their time and online activities in a disciplined manner, techno-invasion can lead to technostress.
According to Craig Brod (2007), in his book Technostress: the human cost of the computer revolution, technostress is a “modern disease of adaptation” caused by the inability of people to cope with new computer technologies in a healthy manner. This is brought about by altered habits of work and collaboration brought about by the use of information technologies, whether in the office or at home.
Do you feel compelled to stay connected and to share constant updates about your activities or engagements? Do you feel the need to respond to work-related information in real time? Do you feel compelled to work faster because information also flows faster? Are you habitually multi-tasking? Do you experience anxiety, fatigue, and physical strain? If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, then you might be experiencing some form of technostress.
Aside from techno-invasion, other technostress creators are: techno-overload, a situation in which individuals using ICT (information and communication technology) feel coerced in performing their work faster and longer; techno-complexity, a situation in which employees spend more time and effort in learning how to use new and complex applications and in updating their skills; techno-insecurity, a situation in which individuals feel threatened about losing their jobs to those who know how to better use new technologies; and techno-uncertainty, a situation in which individuals feel anxiety because of the rapid advances of various forms of ICT.
Clearly, technology brings with it both benefits and perils. However, our understanding of the effects of technology on our lives has not kept up with the rapid advances in ICT. Now, I wonder whether I can muster enough resolve to give up my unli-surf plan or just switch off my phone.
Raymund B. Habaradas is an Associate Professor at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University, where he teaches Management of Organizations, Corporate Social Responsibility, Management Research, and Action Research. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.