Over the past few decades, technology has altered nearly every aspect of office work.
Much of this change has been good.
Computers help us get more work done in less time. They help us optimize our work so that we focus on the right things. They automate mundane, repetitive tasks. They let us create beautiful, informative multimedia presentations without leaving our desks.
- Wearable Tech
- Embedded Tech
- IoT (Internet of Things)
The internet instantly connects us with people and resources around the globe. We can share calendars and collaborate with anyone in the world who also has an internet connection.
It's truly amazing to reflect on how technology has improved our lives in the office.
But . . .
Technology Got Us Into This Mess
Technology also gets us into trouble in the office. Labor-saving technologies have given us sitting disease. Modern computer technologies have given us repetitive strain injuries and computer-vision syndrome. The internet and new media have given us information overload and cognitive overwhelm.
As our technology gadgets get more portable and more ubiquitous, they distract us more and more. Even when you're not actually receiving a call or a text, you may get distracted by "phantom vibration syndrome."
Social media is literally rewiring our brains. Every time you get a like on Facebook or a new follower on Twitter, a little dopamine rush gets you that much more addicted to the medium. With every party invitation and bit of office gossip that you miss, your FOMO (fear of missing out) grows, sparking anxiety.
Technology can also compromise our privacy. Nowadays, everyone wants data. Quantified-self enthusiasts track their daily steps and eating habits. Managers use productivity software to count your keystrokes. Corporate wellness programs monitor your health data. The decisions about how this data is used aren't always in your hands.
And there's no stopping technology. It's a juggernaut that feeds on itself. Wearable technologies and ubiquitous embedded devices - all of them connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) - are only the latest trends that both add convenience to our lives and tether us more firmly to our technology.
Technology Can Get Us Out of Our Office Woes
The same technologies that got us into this mess can get us out of it.
To prevent sitting disease, activity trackers and mobile apps can remind us to move more. Smarter screens and more customizable computer interfaces can reduce the vision problems that ensue from computer use.
Better informed designers are creating more intuitive and natural computer interfaces that do less harm to our bodies.
The free flow of information and our ability to easily connect with both experts and peers lets us collaboratively lifehack about how to cope with distraction, overwhelm, and addiction.
The same technology that exposes our personal information can also help us protect our privacy.
Technology is definitely a two-edged sword.