STRESS AND STRAIN AT COMPUTERIZED WORKPLACES
Zijlstra, F. R. H., University of Surrey, United Kingdom and Leonova, A. B., Moscow State University, Russia
When workplaces are computerized, new potential stress factors emerge. It is clear now, that stress can lead to a decrease of work performance, and affect the employees' general ability to adapt to changing work demands. Some of the frequently reported changes are: increasing cognitive strain vs. reduction of physical demands, intensification of information exchange (in working with virtual objects and partners), a decrease of social support and social interaction. The general complaint is an intensification of work (Aronson, 1989; Roe et al. 1996). Particularly, people have to be able to adapt to new technological innovations very quickly, implying that they have to acquire new skills, while there hardly is enough time to learn these skills. On the other hand, there are jobs in which the most of human skills seems to be taken over by machines, leading to 'deskilling' the operators (Wall, 1987). We consider two general patterns that are relevant to various types of computerized work: The ""computerized conveyor" (e.g. call centre operators), and the more "creative jobs" with decision making as an important feature (e.g. managers at a virtual office). Measures to be taken such as: interface redesign, elaboration of cognitive coping strategies, and stress management techniques will be discussed in the framework of the activity regulation approach and exemplified by the results of several studies.