A vital consideration point in a sustainable professional environment is learning to control the technology in our surroundings. The way our digital tools have permeated our lives is not always seen as a positive thing.
By being constantly connected, the notifications we receive through our smart devices can become intrusive and a disturbance to our biological clock, especially our sleep cycles and concentration capacities.
Technology has been proven to be addictive, and without control we can experience so-called tech fatigue, where our minds are never at rest. It is this more addictive aspect of technology that is perhaps at the core of the challenges of balancing our work lives, since our inboxes are always with us through our smartphones and laptops. In Scandinavia, tech fatigue is a problem that has been addressed in many ways. For example, in 2011, Sweden’s largest telecom provider TeliaSonera launched a free downloadable programme that enabled customers to disable the Internet for a set period of time. TeliaSonera also set up Internet-free zones in several public locations across Sweden during vacation time. On a global scale, there is a multitude of smartphoneapps for wellness, ranging in functions from meditation to actually turning all other apps off in order to create the solitude and peace we seem to seek.
Tech fatigue not just creates tension between home and work life – over immersion in technology is a problem during traditional work hours as well. The email inbox pop-up, instant messages, smartphone apps and social media are all distractions that prevent us from concentrating on focused tasks, or interrupt us whilst in meetings. Surprisingly, even some of the most highest ranked tech digerati share this problem with the average technology user. At Google, for example, a culture has evolved where meetings are defined as being laptop-free or not and longhand note writing is preferred to typing notes digitally.
I don’t bring computers to meetings anymore. I usually bring notebooks. I find the notebook and the sense of longhand writing inspires a different cognitive style than tapping away at a keyboard.Nicklas Lundblad, Director Of Public Policy And Government Relations, Google
The realisation that tech fatigue is in fact a very real problem with very real consequences, and is hard to master, has perhaps been a major factor to employers deciding to create workplaces where technology is less visible and home interior decorating influences design choices. This trend is however not a matter of rejecting digital for the sake of analogue, but of understanding that the rhythm of work needs a combination of practices and environments fit for a variation of thinking processes. In the future, workplace design will create a balance between products and environments that leads to a more heterogeneous workplace for less tech fatigue.
This article has been taken from the Kinnarps Trend Report 2015. Click here to download the full research paper.