There’s no denying that technology has indelibly transformed the modern workplace, especially following the onset of the global pandemic. Streamlined processes, enhanced communication and boosted productivity are just some of the benefits businesses have eagerly embraced in the digital era.

But, warns Nicol Myburgh, Head: HCM Business Unit at CRS Technologies, these benefits come at a price.

There is a very real dark side to technology, he says, which If left unchecked could give rise to negative consequences that may severely impact employees’ mental health, and ultimately the organisation as a whole.

“The advent of remote work, for example, has shown how technology can quickly blur the lines between work and personal life. Some companies expect their staff to be available all the time, even beyond their official working hours. This expectation of constant connectivity can lead to burnout, as employees struggle to switch off at the end of the day.

“Add to this the constant barrage of emails, messages and notifications that employees have to navigate daily and the very technology that is designed to enhance productivity can end up hindering it.

“Individuals become overwhelmed by information overload as they struggle to sift through the sea of digital distractions. Focusing on core tasks becomes a challenge and it’s not long before productivity levels begin to wane.

Myburgh continues: “Some employers even go so far as to use digital tools to monitor their employee’s activities – from tracking their computer usage to analysing their email content. This places additional pressure on employees.”

Failure to address these technology-related challenges could result in a negative organisational culture characterised by stress, distrust and a lack of employee engagement. “Employees may perceive the organisation as being indifferent to their well-being and privacy and begin to seek healthier work environments.”

To avoid these negative outcomes, Myburgh advocates a proactive and strategic approach. “Policies regarding the use of technology in the organisation must be clearly defined and communicated. Set realistic expectations for privacy and the appropriate use of technological resources. If employee monitoring tools must be used, ensure that this is done responsibly and transparently, with a focus on balancing security needs with privacy concerns.

“Establish acceptable boundaries for after-hours communication. Educate employees on the importance of mindfulness in the use of technology and the potential consequences of excessive screen time.

“Most importantly, encourage a culture that promotes work-life balance and values mental health as an integral part of overall employee wellness. Create channels where employees can freely express their concerns about technology-related stress or any other issues related to the impact of technology on their work.”

By implementing these measures, Myburgh concludes, companies can create a workplace environment where the positive aspects of technology can be harnessed while mitigating the potential drawbacks and challenges associated with its dark side.

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