Whether you’re a technophobe or a gadget enthusiast, technology is set to transform the workplace – even more than it has done already. AI and automation are, apparently, going to free us from mundane tasks and enable us to spend more time on more important and human-centric duties.


While there’s no denying how impressive/scary AI capabilities have already become, we’re still a long way off from it being as common or necessary in the office as the kettle. For now, many of us spend our days with the original disruptive tech – the computer, whether that be in the form of a desktop, a tablet, or a smartphone.


If AI is to free us, are our computers more of a burden than a blessing?


According to Cigna’s latest research, the UK is lagging behind other Western markets when it comes to employee wellbeing. But that’s not all. As HR Magazine reports, the UK ranked as the fifth-worse nation globally for unmanageable stress, coming behind only the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Korea. Of the Brits suffering from stress, more than a quarter (26%) cited work as the main factor.


Could our screen time be having a negative effect on our stress levels and wellbeing?


New research from ACUVUE found that the average office worker spends nearly 1,700 hours a year in front of a computer screen. That’s just in one year! The figure is based on workers spending an average of six and a half hours a day at their desktop or laptop.


Speaking to the Independent, Katie McGeechan from ACUVUE commented: “Computers are a relatively new concept – for millions now, staring at a screen all day is the norm.


“However, if you look back just a few decades, far fewer of us would have spent the day looking into the same glowing rectangle, and when you add mobile phones into the mix, we’re putting our eyes through a lot every day.”


But our screen time isn’t just impacting our physical health, it is also affecting our mental wellbeing too. And mobile technology means that it doesn’t just happen at our desks. As Deloitte Insights puts it: “Technology may have physically freed us from our desks, but it has also eliminated natural breaks which would ordinarily take place during the workday.”


Of course, our computers have brought us a whole heap of benefits – who wants to spend their day typing out messages on a typewriter when you can just send one email to all the necessary parties? But perhaps we’ve become too reliant on the technology.


Over half (53%) of the survey’s respondents aim to take regular time away from their screens, and more than a third (37%) have attributed a headache to excessive screen time. To help the physical and mental health of your staff, and to reduce stress, you need to actively encourage less screen time in your office.


Just because you can send an email or an instant message to your colleague down the hall, it doesn’t mean you should. Lead by example and start getting up and talking to staff in-person instead of online; hold meetings or get togethers to discuss ideas rather than having a video conference. Little acts like that can go a long way to changing the company culture, and productivity will no doubt increase as a result of the face-to-face collaboration.


Want your office to provide space away from desks and computers? Call the experts at Kerr today.