Information overload driving up office worker stress

British office workers are suffering from "infobesity" an overconsumption of data that is impacting their health and efficiency at work, it has been claimed.

According to research carried out by Microsoft UK, 55 per cent of office workers in the country regularly experience information overload, with 34 per cent saying they feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they encounter at work.

When it comes to mobile devices, 40 per cent of those who use them for work said they felt under constant pressure to check the device just in case they miss something, while 45 per cent felt under pressure to respond immediately, irrespective of where they are or what they are doing.

It is perhaps not surprising then that 58 per cent of respondents admitted to checking for work messages within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. Furthermore, 52 per cent said it was one of the last things they did before going to bed at night.

Around 30 per cent of those surveyed said this information deluge has a negative impact on their job satisfaction and on their health and wellbeing.

Dave Coplin, Microsoft's UK chief envisioning officer, who has written a book on the subject, believes businesses are tackling data in the wrong way.

Instead of dumping everything onto workers, who are then overwhelmed, technology can be used to filter information and carry out behind the scenes analytics, meaning workers only have to handle snack-size amounts of information.

This in turn gives them more room to be creative, as well as feeling empowered and in control of their workload, rather than buried by it.

"Multi-tasking is not a human trait, it is a computer trait developed by computer scientists in the 1960s," Coplin told IT Pro's sister title PC Pro.

Once both employees and their bosses realise this, the heavy lifting can be returned back to the realm of technology, through business intelligence and big data analytics, and users can start to wean themselves off the "always on" culture that permeates the Anglo-Saxon world.

"The whole point of technology is knowing when to turn it off to give you room to think or relax, and when to turn it on to help you be more effective in your role," Coplin concluded.

Cloud Pro, IT Pro and PC Pro are organising an exclusive 'Good BYOD, Bad BYOD' event on Tuesday 24 June in central London, where Dave Coplin and Paul Ockenden will be speaking.

The event is for IT managers, IT directors and CIOs who are looking for real-world best practice - and worst practice - on how to roll out BYOD policies. If you're interested in attending, register your interest here.

Jane McCallion
Deputy Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialise in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.