Employees who practice mindfulness in the digital workplace are better protected against anxiety and feeling overloaded, new research has shown.

Mindfulness, which is when an individual pays close attention to the present moment, can help to ward off all the negative side effects of the digital workplace, according to the team behind the study.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham also found that people who are more ‘digitally confident’ were less at risk of experiencing anxiety in the workplace.

PhD student Elizabeth Marsh, from the university’s School of Psychology, led the study and said: “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.

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

The team carried out a survey of 142 employees, who were asked about the extent they are affected by the negative aspects of working in a digital environment. These were identified as stress, overload, anxiety, fear of missing out and addiction.

While digital workplace anxiety was less common in people who felt digitally confident, increased mindfulness was linked to better protection against all the side effects.

Associate Professor of Psychology Dr Alexa Spence said: “Digital workplace technologies like e-mail, instant messaging and mobile devices have been shown to contribute to perceptions of stress by employees and employees may experience stress when having to adapt to a constantly evolving digital workplace which can lead to burnout and poorer health.”

Professor of Digital Technology for Mental Health, Elvira Perez Vallejos, commented: “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.”

Read the study in the journal PLOS ONE.

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