Better Life Lab


When your boss is an algorithm, AI reads your resume, your colleagues are jerks on Zoom, and Big Brother watches everything.


Episode Notes

PTSD. Burnout. Depression. That’s what you get from a too-stressful workplace. And—employers take note—you also get reduced commitment to work, and much higher costs.

As workplaces have navigated the COVID pandemic, new technologies have amped those stresses to 11. Bossware. Tattleware. After-hours nastiness on Slack. Now there’s a whole different kind of “technostress” wearing on warehouse and retail workers, whose every movement is tracked and rated by algorithms.

Researchers are only beginning to study the impact “technostress” has on workers, from toxic interpersonal relationships to “email apnea.” Tech is here to stay—but how can we foster healthier, less “technostress”-inducing work cultures?


Roxanne Felig, doctoral student at the University of South Florida, who was cyber bullied online after publishing her first major research paper — and publicizing it on TikTok.

Adrian Ugalde, retail worker at a big box store in LA.

Maddie Swenson, who quit her remote job as a creative director because of the stress of being monitored with Bossware.

Ashley Nixon, Associate Professor of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior at Willamette University.


Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance, Data and Society, 2019

Technostress Dark Side of Technology in the Workplace: A Scientometric Analysis, Bondanini et al, 2020.

Technostress: Implications for Adults in the Workplace, Atanasoff & Venable, 2017

Workplace bullying jeopardizes employees’ life satisfaction: the roles of job anxiety and insomnia, Nauman, Malik & Jalil, 2019

The Workplace-Surveillance Technology Boom, Natalie Chyi, New America Weekly, 2020

Are you Breathing? Do you have email apnea? Linda Stone, 2014


About the Show

Economists say the way we work has become so stressful it’s now the fifth leading cause of death. Our mission is to find a better way. Explore the art and science of living a full and healthy life with behavioral and social science researchers who can help us better understand what drives our human experiences, and how to change. Better Life Lab is a co-production from New America and Slate. All episodes