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Employees who are more mindful in a digital workplace environment are much more protected against stress, anxiety and overload than their peers, a UK study has revealed.

The study, conducted by researchers from University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology and Medicine, analysed survey data from 142 UK-based full- or part-time employees. Elizabeth Marsh, a PhD researcher from the School of Psychology, led the mixed methods study, published in PLOS ONE on Friday.

Participants were surveyed about their experiences of the dark side effects of the digital workplace, identified as stress, overload, anxiety, fear of missing out, addiction, and also how these potentially affected their health.

The study found that more digitally confident workers were less likely to experience digital workplace anxiety, while those with higher mindfulness were better protected against all of the aforementioned effects.

The digital workplace has become a key component of post-COVID-19 work, with more employees seeking remote or hybrid working arrangements, helping them strike a healthier work-life balance in the process.

However, just as employees encounter risks and challenges in the physical workplace, such as anxiety, stress, and bullying, they may also experience these effects while away from the office.

“As work is increasingly mediated by digital technology, we wanted to find out the impact this is having on people’s health and whether there are ways to mitigate this,” Ms Marsh said while describing the study.

“We found that being mindfully and confidently digital should be considered important elements of living a healthy digital working life in the 21st century,” she added.

Mindfulness is a state of consciousness where you are fully aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions, knowing what you are doing in the present, rather than focusing on the past or the future. Essentially, it is all about focusing on the present moment. On the other hand, digital confidence involves being comfortable with and knowledgeable about using digital technologies.

The study revealed that employees who were more mindful were less exposed to the adverse impacts of the dark side of the digital workplace. Mindfulness can thus help employees protect their well-being by altering their perceptions of digital workplace stressors.

“The research shows that organisations need to consider how to manage digital workplace hazards alongside other psychosocial and physical risks in the workplace. Helping employees foster mindful awareness when working digitally could really help overall well-being,” Professor of Mental Health and Digital Technology at University of Nottingham Elvira Perez Vallejos explained.

The study highlighted that being mindfully and confidently digital must be considered important elements of living a healthy digital working life.

In order for organisations to take a proactive role in managing digital workplace hazards and fostering mindful awareness among employees, they could implement a number of initiatives, such as mindfulness training programmes, providing resources to help employees improve their digital skills, and also create a culture that encourages mindful use of digital technologies.

Through these measures, businesses are not only helping employees in protecting their well-being, but also enhancing productivity and job satisfaction.


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