Is your technology killing you?..(part 2)
In part 2 of this article we’ll look at the real killer in the room, and the reason we’re all miserable and in pain. Workplace tech.
As I’ve already mentioned I see a lot of people with back pain. A fair chunk of these people are what you’d describe as ‘professional people’. Those who work in offices, either for themselves or others and spend a vast amount of their day interacting with technology, but we’re spending too much time interacting with it in an environment; which despite the best efforts of ergonomics is actually harming our physical and mental health.
Which is really kind of backwards; as the idea behind technology is actually quite noble. It should make us more efficient, more productive, and therefore we get through our workload quicker and easier; which in the long run should make us happier, because we get to finish and go home earlier…right? And because we live in the utopic paradise, we're all healthy, eat well and exercise regularly with all added time we have!
Well that may be the case for some people (by the way I’ve not met any yet). What actually seems to happen (and I know as I spent eight and a half years working in a corporate environment) is technology is used to wring the last amount of productivity out of you. Measurements for how many items of work you do, the quality of that work are all embedded into technology.
You do well in a company, what do they do? Give you more responsibility, then they say you have to earn the pay rise with that comes with that responsibility because it would be foolish to promote someone who hasn’t proven themselves in that role. So you get a 6 month probation period, during which time (because you want to keep your job) you work your ass off.
You get your promotion, then your boss notices you’re looking a little jaded, you’re working long hours, so he arranges for you to get a laptop and work mobile. This is intended to help you manage your work/life balance better, because you can ‘work from home’ when needed. Again, a noble concept but what actually happens? You’re on call all day everyday, no matter how good or bad you feel. Work emails are no longer locked away on a PC in your office, they’re right there in your front room. Even if you try to ignore them, there’s that damned work phone with them on as well. Let’s also not forget that your boss is on the same hamster wheel you are and he/she is now sending you stuff and cc’ing you on everything; which you’re expected to have read before you get to the office. On top of this nobody is helping you because your tech doesn’t feel pity, or remorse for your situation and it can’t be bargained with. It just sits there waiting for you in all it’s mini-terminator glory…
Aside from the extra mental stress of having all this workplace tech in the home; the simple fact is the home (unless you are lucky enough to have an office) is just not physically set-up for work. How many of us have sat at the dining room table on a laptop? Ergonomically this is a nightmare. I mean don’t get me wrong you’ll be okay as long as it’s not for more than a short while, but how many of us work for 20 minutes, or less at a time?
Offices are not much better, although bigger companies are waking up to the idea that having someone sit in the same position for 8 hours a day is not great for their physical / mental wellbeing and therefore the company’s profitability. Sitting regularly for this long weakens your core muscles, stretches your glutes, tightens your hamstrings, places an excessive load on your lower spine.
In actual fact, it doesn’t matter how good (or bad) your seated posture is. If you’re sitting for 8 hours a day then coming home and sitting for another few hours before going to bed, you’re increasing the risk of not only musculoskeletal pain but heart disease and diabetes as well. Why? Because you’re not moving your body, you’re not exercising, you are just sedentary.
Don't believe this is the norm? In a recent study by US company Ergotron they concluded the average American is now sitting for 13 hours a day and sleeping for 8. That's a massive 21 hours of sedentary time a day.
So what can we do about it? In part 3 we’ll look at what we can do to take back control of our lives from our mini terminators.