IT — 30 May 2019

Reducing workplace stress: the technology leaders’ guide

Authored by: Abhishek Lahoti, Business Development and Partnerships Executive, Dropbox

Studies show one in four of us will struggle with a mental health condition in our lifetime, and mental health problems cost UK businesses almost £36 billion a year.

These statistics are confounded further when you look at the impact of technology on mental health: feelings of isolation, an inability to switch off and pressure to complete work faster. It means that technology leaders must be increasingly considerate of the technology deployed at work and how it affects users.

In this blog, we lay out core considerations to help you tackle this challenge and create a culture and working environment your employees love coming to work for.

1. Give employees better control of tasks that fill their schedules

One of the biggest contributors to stress at work is an unexpected last-minute change or a feeling of total lack of control.

Provide tools that make it easy for employees to track and monitor their schedules. Invest in tools like Trello to track project status, Zendesk to track customer queries, Jira to monitor product development or other note-taking tools like Dropbox Paper, which mean employees spend less time organising to do lists, and more time completing tasks that have business impact.

2. Take advantage of automation

Repetitive, mundane tasks are the bane of everyone’s working life. Nobody wants to spend hours inputting data or completing the same task. It leads to apathy and eventually stress.

Digital tools, robotic process automation and machine learning are helping eradicate simple tasks. For example, simple customer service requests can now be handled by chat bots, programmed to recognise keywords and phrases and distribute information without any human input.

Advances in digital tools and automation now mean it’s possible to strip away tasks from people and automate them with technology. Speak to your teams and understand workflows to find areas crying out for automation.

Automation helps drive down costs, streamline processes, and most importantly, allows people to be creative and happier at work by avoiding mindless tasks.

3. Deploy more collaborative tools

A large contributor to stress in the workplace is the feeling of not knowing what’s going on, who is working on similar projects or even completed tasks before. Collaborative tools can alleviate this problem.

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Deploying accessible, collaborative tools delivers greater transparency to the business. Teams are more engaged and up to speed with what’s happening, and subsequently less stressed.

A recent McKinsey study, found employees spend 28% of the working week reading and answering emails. This time can be dramatically reduced by deploying collaborative tools that allow people visibility on projects, keeping them in sync, while allowing them to work together regardless of location.

This helps reduce administration time, enabling teams to get more done while simultaneously making the business more efficient. This ensures work continues forward and keeps teams happy and effective at serving your customers.

4. Keep your teams included and notified of change

With unexpected changes playing havoc with stress levels, it is critical employees feel included and are kept aware of impending technology modifications. You must think carefully about how new tools are implemented and how teams are educated to use them.

Work closely with your HR team to phase deployments. Engage with cross-functional groups to bring champions on board to help support change and work with focus groups to demo the product early. Adopting a more considered approach will help mitigate stress as well as build support for your initiatives.

Whatever tools and technologies you deploy, your working culture is a key factor in how successful your company is; optimising for it is a way to both show your employees care and build a successful team.

When people are stressed work breaks down, people are less productive and it has a knock-on effect felt across the business. When people are happy, they are more productive, more engaged, and more creative.

Please note: Sometimes we blog about upcoming products or features before they're released, but
timing and exact functionality of these features may change from what's shared here. The decision to
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