A THIRD of employees say the technology in their workplace is increasing job stress rather than reducing it.

The survey of staff in the south west found 56 per cent blamed unreliability of the tech as the main reason, while 46 cited an increasing workload.

The research, carried out for advice and broking firm Willis Towers Watson, also found that 28 per cent of staff thought tech meant less human interaction, 24 per cent said it brought tighter deadlines and 22 per cent said it was excessively complex.

Toby Pestridge, creative director at the Bournemouth digital agency Createful, has previously said wellbeing would be improved if some computer processes ran more slowly. He said he was not surprised by the research.

“It’s what we’ve known anecdotally for some time. Technology has always been something of a double-edged sword,” he said.

“On the one hand we benefit by saving time and doing the same tasks more efficiently. On the other, we need to train people to use new systems and software, and be careful of replacing all workplace tasks with a digital equivalent.

“There are times when non-digital interactions are actually better. No one would argue for a move back to physical paper ledger books over using something like Excel, but walking across an office to have a quick face-to-face conversation instead of using email or Slack benefits everyone.

“With more than a quarter of people surveyed quoting ‘a lack of human interaction’, businesses need to take a good look at themselves and make sure they’re adopting tech responsibly.”

Andrew Knowles, director of digital marketing agency Sprida and past president of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, said: “The analogy I use for digital tech is that of using a car 100 years ago – back then a car often broke down and to get the best from it meant understanding how it worked and how to fix it. Today the ideal car is massively reliable and ‘just works’. I don’t want to ever see the engine of my car.

“Digital tech is stressful right now because we haven’t reached the stage where it ‘just works’.”

Verity Woodgate, owner of Dorchester-based Zenna Wellbeing in the Workplace, said: “Employees are under more pressure to keep up with changes in systems and programs, often without being trained or offered support. Even those who do undertake training can feel additional stress at having to take time away from their work responsibilities to retrain and keep up with an ever-changing landscape.

“In addition to this, unpredictable computer crashes and system errors can cause additional stress through loss of work documents, reports and research which can take time to resolve, leading to longer working days. This report has also highlighted that technology can see employees spend less time interacting with other people throughout the day.”

She said more effort was needed to create an “atmosphere of transparency”, where those facing challenges from the new technology were able to voice their frustrations and receive support.

“Putting in place steps where there is additional training offered, or a buddy-system where more confident users are able to support colleagues should help to foster a friendlier and more supportive atmosphere which reduces stress caused by workplace technology,” she added.

Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson, said: “Technology can be a considerable force for good with the potential to act as a catalyst for smarter, more efficient and more flexible working. Despite offering a wealth of opportunities to improve our working lives, however – simplifying and, in some cases, eradicating many mundane or laborious tasks – these findings highlight that, in some cases, it can be both a blessing and a curse.

“The drive to introduce new technology is inevitable as businesses search for more efficient ways of working, but these findings should act as a call to action to ensure it is adopted strategically, and deployed with appropriate levels of support, training and consideration to the mental wellbeing of users.”