What are the consequences of too much tech? Technology streamlines processes but often removes human interaction to do so and recent research points to an epidemic of loneliness in the workplace as a result.
Technology keeps us highly connected, but not necessarily to people. Fixation on technology reduces productivity and collaboration, increases the risk of burnout, and worse, the loneliness it fosters can have a detrimental impact on overall health.
MarketWatch quotes Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general of the U.S., “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.”
The effect of loneliness on an individual’s health is startling enough, but increased absenteeism and higher health costs are just two of the many ways loneliness affects the workplace. Sigal Barsade, professor of management at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, found in his research that greater employee loneliness led to poorer task, team role and relational performance.
Limiting tech interaction in-office has the potential to increase job satisfaction and employee retention. Encouraging employees to build relationships with one another can boost their loyalty to an organization. A study by John P. Meyer and Natalie J. Allen, professors of psychology at Western University in London, Ontario found how an employee perceives and connects with a company is largely influenced by their interpersonal relationships at the organization.
Two global studies, conducted by Future Workplace with Randstad, found that young professionals would choose a corporate office over remote work, and in-person meetings over virtual ones. Employee interaction is going to become an attractive recruitment perk as isolating remote work grows.
Reining in the use of tech at work can lead to less stress, more engagement, higher job satisfaction and better retention. At minimum, it helps combat the loneliness epidemic that’s sure to get worse before it gets better as technology continues to streamline processes, which in some cases means removing human interaction altogether.