techno stress

'CrackBerry' was the word of the year for 2006. The word for 2007 might be 'techno-stress.'

BlackBerries and laptops are contributing to a unique form of anxiety. You are probably familiar with it yourself. That feeling that any minute that e-mail will arrive. That slavish feeling you get when your BlackBerry buzzes and you just have to answer it. The way your laptop beckons to you if you sit and do nothing for a moment. This feeling that if you are attached to the office 24/7 then you should be working 24/7. This anxiety is called 'techno-stress.'

In the 1960s it was predicted that in the 21st Century we’d all be working 15 to 20 hours-per-week. Doh. Today, we are working more hours than ever and are expected to be available at anytime. This drastic change in expectations is having a huge impact on workers and their families and little is being done to address it. What’s a CrackBerry addict to do?

Hotels have started offering to lock-up your communication devices. If you want to access your laptop or BlackBerry at the Sheraton Chicago you’ll have to break into a special safe designed to separate you from your addictive device. The hotel claims allowing guests to lock up their BlackBerries helps business travelers boost their creativity and beat techno-stress. The hotel also claims to be leading the way in encouraging guests to concentrate on eyeball-to-eyeball meetings and socializing.

Reaching for the off-switch on his BlackBerry transformed Sheraton Chicago hotel general manager Rick Ueno's life. He told Reuters in a recent article "I run a hotel with over 900 employees and thousands of guests. I think I'm more effective. I feel better, I sleep better. My family likes it." He has encouraged guests to do so too.

Other hotels aren't quite so sure their guests are ready to go cold turkey. The Landmark, a five-star hotel in London, says it has provided specially designed laptop safes in every room. Business guests can hide away their computers in their own bedroom if they wish to, although it means that they also have relatively easy access to their technology 24/7.

But out of site may just mean out of mind. At the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland has toyed with a similar idea although they realize a world class golf course is probably the best way to help you forget about your BlackBerry.