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How the digital deluge is impacting wellbeing

12 January 2015

How the digital deluge is impacting wellbeing


As we become increasingly dependent on technology for managing both work and leisure, have we fallen into addiction? How is this 'digital deluge' affecting our health?

The average Brit spends more time on their smartphone every day (119 minutes) than with their partner (a mere 97 minutes). It’s a pretty shocking statistic, but one that sadly isn’t too hard to believe and one that doesn’t even take laptops or tablets into account. We have become a nation of technology addicts. Just as it’s affecting our personal lives, technology – and email in particular – has also impacted on the way we work. Most people would argue it has made us more efficient and productive, but it has also made us more likely to check our work emails late at night or while on holiday.

Is it any surprise that there is a growing feeling that the ‘always on’ culture created by technology may be detrimental to employee health and wellbeing? There is an emerging body of research to back this up. A survey of more than 2,000 UK employees by Microsoft found more than half (55%) say they experience “information overload” at work, while 52% admit to looking at work emails just 15 minutes before going to bed. A separate survey by software firm Projectplace found 63% regularly work evenings and weekends to keep on top of things, despite 79% saying work/life balance is important to them.

Dave Coplin is chief envisioning officer at Microsoft and author of The Rise of the Humans, which examines how people can cope with what he terms the “digital deluge”. “It’s a massive problem; there are mental health issues and productivity issues, all related to the prevalence of a world with too much information,” he says. “But what really makes this different is the pervasive nature of our mobile devices now. We have them with us from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to sleep.” He believes people have failed to adapt to the potential benefits technology offers, simply working harder rather than smarter.

Read more at: HR Magazine