Technostress: what is it and how can HR help?

People professionals must play a key role in supporting remote working employees, say Didem Taser and Alev Ozer Torgaloz

Didem Taser and Alev Ozer Torgaloz

Remote working is becoming more prevalent in most industries, especially after the Covid pandemic. We conducted a study to understand the benefits and challenges of remote working, as well as how to optimise its impact on both employees and employers. In our research, we identified technostress and loneliness as two key stressors that can negatively affect employee flow and wellbeing while working remotely.

Technostress is the feeling of anxiety, frustration and overload caused by the use of technology. It can result from factors such as technical problems, information overload, lack of knowledge and skills and constant connectivity. Our study suggests that technostress can reduce employee flow by disrupting concentration, increasing errors and lowering satisfaction. 

Loneliness is the feeling of social isolation and lack of meaningful relationships. It can result from factors such as reduced face-to-face interaction, lack of social support and blurred boundaries between work and personal life. We found that loneliness can reduce employee flow by impairing motivation, creativity and learning. While remote working was related to higher levels of flow, technostress and loneliness disrupted this positive association.

HR professionals play a key role in shaping and implementing organisational policies, including those related to remote work. Our research offers valuable insights into the factors influencing the success or challenges of remote work, helping HR professionals make informed decisions and provide necessary support to employees.

From this perspective of employee experiences, HR professionals need to be much involved in understanding technostress, as it can affect employees' productivity, job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.

Loneliness is a significant issue for remote workers and understanding its impact can be essential for HR professionals in implementing strategies that promote social connection and support. In addition, the main concept that this study explored was the flow experience, which is a state of intense focus and immersion in a task.

As the flow state appears to contribute to employee performance, understanding how it relates to remote work can be beneficial for HR professionals seeking to improve employee performance, engagement and commitment.

How can managers enhance flow experience and wellbeing while remote working?

It is not always easy to promote employee flow and wellbeing while working remotely, but there are many things you can do to support your employees:

  • Invest in improving employees’ technological capabilities
    Providing training, coaching and feedback is key, as enhanced skills can reduce the amount of stress and overload caused by the use of technology. HR departments can develop training programmes that equip employees with the skills and strategies to cope with technostress and loneliness. These considerations can contribute to a more supportive and effective remote work environment.

  • Provide flexibility in work hours and communication
    Allowing employees to choose their preferred time and mode of contact, take breaks and engage in self-care activities can be very beneficial in helping them to find a balance between the challenges of work while continuing to enjoy it.

  • Prioritise employee wellbeing and enhance communication
    Conducting regular check-ins, offering emotional support and encouraging social interaction and personal contact, such as virtual coffee breaks and team-building activities, can be helpful, as it will increase meaningful interactions between colleagues, which can help reduce the feeling of loneliness while working remotely.

  • Foster a culture of trust, collaboration and feedback
    Setting clear goals and expectations, recognising and rewarding achievements and providing constructive feedback are also essential, as they will help create meaningful relations between teams and therefore reduce the feeling of loneliness while working remotely.

Remote work can offer a great opportunity for employees to experience flow and wellbeing. However, as remote working becomes the norm in the workplace, robust managerial and organisational support are critical to reducing the feeling of loneliness and stress induced by technology.

Didem Taser Erdogan is a lecturer in work and organisation at Brunel University London and Alev Özer Torgalöz is assistant professor of management at Izmir University of Economics