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TECHNOLOGY


in their working careers suffered a certain degree of ‘technology rage’. Te problem being that technolo-


gy is all well and good when it works how it is supposed to, but, ironically, it is at those times when employees may be under great pressure to deliver, that an epic technological fail leads to an epic level of stress. In the train- ing world, businesses rely heavily on technology working as it’s supposed to – whether it is attendees bringing smart devices to sessions or the latest interactive whiteboard displaying a slick presentation. Te situation itself can be stressful enough, without the equipment not functioning as expected. So is technology adding to the


stress burden in today’s working environments? Hard science on the matter is difficult to come by, debates on the effects of technology failing are driven more by conjecture and anecdotes. However, global research commissioned by Barco and carried out by technology market research firm Vanson Bourne provides evidence that technology is often counter- productive and does pile on stress in parts of the working environment.


Technological turbulence


Technology impacts workplace stress in many ways, and in businesses generally a large proportion of that stress comes from the fact that it is always on. It is not that long ago, before email, smart-


Anyone who uses technology has also at some point in their working careers suffered a certain degree of ‘technology rage’





phones and the internet, that people could literally leave their work in the office and switch off at home. Now, workers are fully connected around the clock and regardless of the industry or sector, technology has turned most companies into a 24-hour operation. Customer expectations are the


same. Driven by the immediacy and instantaneous nature of their dig- ital devices, they want and expect


24 | august 2016 |


businesses to be available all day and night and, thanks to technology, companies have to meet that demand and be contactable at any time. In the workplace itself, BYOD can


also contribute to stress levels, whether it is workers having to keep on top of communication from multiple devices or the personal devices not integrating or being compatible with the employ- er’s systems. Tis ‘always-on’ culture for both the employees and their many technological devices has spurred stress levels inside and outside the workplace.


Tech rage in the meeting room


Any type of meeting, whether it is a small gathering for a brainstorm or a corporate training session, carries a cer- tain degree of stress. Tis also happens to be the space where technology is often expected to play an important role, particularly when it comes to present- ing or sharing content on different devices. One common stressful scenario is attempting to share content from various devices running on different, often incompatible, operating systems. Tis is usually a fairly complicated and time-consuming process and the stress is exacerbated with a mass of cables and connectors used to link these devices and the frequent need to call in IT support to ensure the sharing can take place. In recent research, the results


showed technology can be counter- productive and add to the stress of a situation. Te study questioned 1,000 office workers from around the world to gauge the current attitude towards meeting room technology. One of the findings revealed that close to 90 per cent of respondents said they had suf- fered technology-related stress in meet- ings, so the vast majority of employees in the workplace have clearly experi- enced the effect of technological failures. Te research also revealed that


more than half of the respondents had experienced inefficiencies that had affected either their performance, the effectiveness of the meeting and wasted time – all due to issues with the tech- nology. In a nod towards incidences of so-called tech rage, four out of ten of the people said they had experienced anger and frustration as a result of unreliable technology, while one-third of respondents said they had even ex- perienced decreased morale as a result.


Missed deadlines and opportunities


While it’s not a leap to suggest office workers do experience technology issues, what the study also found was that the negative impact of unreliable technology often extended beyond the meeting room. Te implications were found to be all-encompassing, with connotations for both the organisation and those individuals who had expe- rienced the technological failures. Almost one-quarter of respondents (24 per cent) said they had missed a deadline or important actions as a result of malfunctioning meeting room technology and a further 12 per cent said they had missed out on a sale or winning business. For the individ- ual employees, one worrying result showed that one in ten reported they had missed out on personal opportu- nities, such as credit or promotions. Te issue of using technology to


share information in meetings was also shown to contribute to the levels of stress. Te study found that seven out of ten office workers report- ed regularly experiencing stress in trying to share meeting information with different people. Tis included 62 per cent saying they often find simply using meeting conference technology stressful; and more than half (58 per cent) frequently finding sharing content or screens during meetings using technology stressful. Tis perhaps points to the example


scenario given earlier, where con- necting different devices running on a range of operating systems causes a great deal of stress. Rather than technology making the process seam- less, problems are caused with wires, connections and incompatible systems. It seems that stress is not just anecdotal or matter of opinion either, as the research also included a study by neuromarketing and market research company, Mindlab International. Te specialist company looked into the emotional and physiological impli- cations of meeting room technology struggles. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results showed that participants’ peak stress levels were 63 per cent higher when technology problems occurred in meetings than when meetings ran smoothly. Mindlab analysed physical symptoms such as heart rates to gauge the effects of stress on the body. Te


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