By Haleema Zia*
Many organizations in public as well as private sector keep on investing in Information Technology to progress their organizational profitability, operational quality and productivity, which helps them to combat competition. Telework reflects volatile and unconventional working environment. This prompt use of advanced technology has transmogrified the nature of services. Nowadays, organizations rely more on tech-led processes in order to gain a competitive edge and maintain extraordinary efficiency levels.
Many organizations offer their employees to work from home using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and it is becoming one of the fastest and modern modes of working. Working from home is becoming popular method to run smooth working of organizations especially during disasters, crises and global pandemics and it also helps organizations in cost saving. Advanced information technologies are capable to connect people with their colleagues, supervisors as well as friends and family without physically visiting their places. Working from home has many benefits and opened new avenues of opportunities to employees but it has also posed some serious challenges for organizations as well as employees.
COVID-19 – a global pandemic initially originated in December, 2019 in Wuhan, China and has presented many challenges to health systems, organizational systems, psychological wellbeing and governance. It started spreading widely throughout the world in February, 2020 and ruptured routine life of everyone. It has pushed everyone into their own personal spaces in order to control its spread. Lockdown was observed in most of the countries, and there was no way for organizations to continue working except by allowing its employees to work from home using ICTs. This helped organizations and their employees to keep running their organizational operations smoothly. However, the increased use of ICTs has distorted the work-home boundaries and induced technostress among employees. The increased technostress levels and work-home conflict has created psychological pressure on employees and has also created challenges for organizations regarding their employees wellbeing and psychological health.
In the recent times, employee wellbeing has gained some momentum as employers have realized that employee’s wellbeing is an important factor in order to enhance organization’s overall performance. Employee wellbeing is distinguished from general wellbeing because workplace settings are different from general life conditions. Technostress among employees is caused when most of their working is based on ICTs and they constantly try learning and coping with evolving technologies. As COVID-19’s emergency situation has pushed the world to reconsider its management and working styles. In the world of digitalization, people have started learning and using more complex and advanced technologies and their leisure time is also spent in using social media and entertainment apps. The technology usage hours have increased drastically leading to serious psychological and mental health issues. Employees are also unable to distinguish between work and home time, as they have set working stations within their homes.
In conclusion, Information and Communication Technology during COVID-19 has transformed the working style of organizations and helped saving costs. However, it has significant impact on wellbeing of employees; therefore, there is a dire need for organizational managers and researchers to find ways to cope with work-related anxiety. Training modules should be introduced in order to increase personal resources such as mindfulness and technology readiness to help employees cope with the rapidly changing environment and to have a self-control. This would lead them to work with more focus and to distinguish between work and home life after buffering the impact of technostress.
*About Author: Miss Haleema Zia has done MS in Management Sciences from Riphah International University. She has 8 years of working experience with development sector and has also made significant efforts in countering terrorism. She is currently working as Director Communications at Adal Foundation and is also working as an Independent Researcher in the fields of Management Sciences and Counter Terrorism. She can be accessed through [email protected].