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IT reduces stress - except for bankers

A recent survey has found that while many decision-makers feel IT has made their job easier, those in the financial sector are more stressed as a result of communications technology

IT and mobile communication technologies are making our working lives less stressful, according to a  study out on Monday.

The majority of the 300 IT decision-makers in medium-sized UK businesses said IT has made their jobs less stressful, although the figures differ sharply between sectors.

While two-thirds of respondents from manufacturing firms reported a positive influence, 81 percent in the finance sector said the plethora of communications technologies has made their job more stressful, with constant interruptions dealing with emails and fending off cold calls on the telephone.

One of the major trends to come out of the research was the move to mobile and flexible working and half of the businesses questioned said they require some staff to work remotely either from home or in the car -- although the new ban on mobile phones in cars may change that.

But flexible working also throws up some challenges and 42 percent said the biggest issue is keeping remote workers focused and motivated. Liaising with clients is more difficult and 15 percent said the lack of social interaction with colleagues is a problem.

Suzan Lewis, professor of organisational and work-life psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, analysed the findings and said in a statement that while IT is helping people do their jobs better there is still scope for improvement.

"There is a need to focus on the skills required for managing technology e.g. managing email and avoiding information overload and competencies for managing people in remote or high tech contexts," she said. "Sometimes face to face communication is necessary and an important skill may be being able to distinguish whether this is necessary or not."

Gerry Sutcliffe, the employment relations minister, said in a statement: "Using technology to work away from the traditional office environment has the potential to bring a wide range of benefits to both employers and employees ad it is important that these benefits are realised and exploited fully."

The survey was conducted by Continental Research on behalf of Mitel Networks during September and October this year.