Today’s workplace technology is exponentially growing and evolving ever so rapidly. Virtual teams, agile talent, and remote offices are realities. Business partners, suppliers and customers are worldwide and thanks to advancements in technology, time zones and office hours matter less today.
Enhanced communications create opportunities for employees to remain in touch from their homes, create flexibility in terms of working later or earlier and send approval from virtually anywhere in the world.
Workplace communication tools like Slack, Trello, and Facebook’s Workplace enable people to work remotely as people don’t need to be in the same room to get projects done. They create a space to support employees to communicate, share information and collaborate on tasks while providing opportunities for employees to discuss topics of interests and share ideas.
Digital workplace tools have improved collaboration and communication; however, there have been impacts on culture. When companies refuse to upgrade their technology, staff morale can take a hit resulting in a less focused, productive and attention workforce.
Digital transformation of the workplace is not always a sure-fire win for companies. At times, digital innovation can create unintended or unforeseen consequences. Implementation of new systems or business solutions can create new problems rather than solving existing issues.
Poor Use of Technology Can Have a Negative Impact on Workplace Culture
1. Understand Culture, Then Choose Technology
Your workforce cannot use outdated software. Implementing a new piece of software will not change your culture, turn bad apples into good ones nor eliminate resentment between employees and managers. Companies need to invest in understanding how poor technology is impacting on service delivery to clients to be able to make decisions on how to move forward. Only changing technology will be a band-aid solution. By listening to your workforce, you can identify tools and technology that will support your company culture to grow.
2. Small Change, Big Impact
The slightest change can transform a disillusioned workforce into a happy one. If you want to improve staff morale, engage the workforce by solving a problem, and then install new technology and machinery. One prominent issue has been time spent searching for paper records. By digitizing paper documents and storing them as searchable, electronic files make retrieval much more accessible. Employees can simply log into a secure system, use keywords to find instantly what they need. When staff have everything they need to perform productively, through updated infrastructure and equipment, work-life becomes smoother.
3. Good for Company, Not Good for the People
Employees are the foundation of any company. When companies do the right thing by their people, for the right reason, they care and invest in their people. However, while several technological innovations are significant for the company, some create negative impacts on technology in the workspace. For instance, surveillance programs exist to allow companies to track employee web surfing. Staff are monitored through video cameras and some companies even track every keystroke on a computer. Companies must be transparent with their workforce and clear as of the purpose of deploying employee tracking technology if they want to continue to have an engaged and happy workforce.
4. Remote Workers
Twenty-first-century technology has created opportunities for workforces to implement remote and mobile access to enable people to work from anywhere at any time. Flexibility in working hours has provided various pathways for employees, and some can tip the scale of work-life balance. Companies need to be mindful that work cultures are not promoting expectations that employees are not being compensated for additional work consistently and where the pressure to work long hours is an unspoken rule. When an imbalance occurs, employee morale can be compromised, creating ripples within the company. When confidence drops, the flow-on effect on recruiting new staff can become more difficult. Employees will access such sites as Glassdoor to look at reviews and gauge the type of culture that is being promoted.
5. Trojan Horses
Have you ever seen someone who has mistakenly opened an innocent-seeming email and unwittingly downloaded a hacker’s trojan horse program? Sound familiar? In these instances, technology can be a curse; however, today’s world, so much business is conducted thanks to technological advancements. All of it depends on security, guarding passwords, debugging access points, putting up firewalls and using anti-virus software. Any security vulnerability can be detrimental to a company. Security breaches can result in class action suits and fines and the carnage within the company culture can be irreversible. Investing in the best information technology specialists can be the company’s most significant investment.
6. Be a Master of Technology Not a Slave
Deloitte Insights article raised concerns that due to people being hyper-connected, employees have few opportunities to get away from their devices to spend quality time thinking and solving problems. The ubiquity of technology propagates an “always-on” mentality where people respond to emails, texts and perform tasks beyond their hours. Unspoken rules of being connected 24/7, resulting in employee burnout. How you use technology matters. One trend has been for companies to allocate a day of no-emails.
7. The ‘Google Effect’
Technology, especially poor technology, has blurred the home/work boundaries, reduced people’s capacity for focus and concentration, and has interrupted people’s ability to digest complex content while encouraging people to multitask. People are also subject to what is known as the ‘Google effect’ where we become less adept at remembering information as we subconsciously delegate that responsibility to technology. To safeguard your memory in an information overload environment, the best way to make information stick is to sit back and mentally refresh what you have learnt or experienced and then teach it to another human being.
8. Distractions – One of The Most Harmful Impacts
Have you ever sat at your desk, constant notifications, multiple web pages open on the desktop and emails flowing in every hour? Deloitte reports that people compensate for interruptions by working faster, leading to stress, frustration and pressure. Smartphones distract people from achieving a flow state at work. Employees continually looking at their phone to check emails, messages or respond to every beep can lead to addiction to gadgets. People who are addicted to their device have higher levels of GABA, a chemical that slows down signals in the brain.
It's Time to Recalibrate Our Relationship with Technology and Rebalance Company Culture
Identifying the benefits when technology is working well is critical. Often employee health and wellbeing are being compromised, and there is a growing recognition that poor use of technology can undermine performance and productivity as well as harm the wellbeing of the workforce.
Smartphones and continuous use of emails mean that employees are subject to a constant stream of interruptions. Notifications are alerting us to the arrival of new emails, creating distractions and making it too challenging to maintain a state of flow required to carry out complex tasks. Here are five ways to rebalance company culture through technology.
1. Continuously Reinventing
When it comes to any technology, it has a life shelf. We live in a world of exponentially increasing technological advancements that carry so much impact. Each generation of technology improves, and the rate of progress speeds up. For instance,
- By 2020, 50 billion smart devices will be collecting, analyzing and sharing data
- The web hosting services market is expected to reach $77.8 billion in 2025
- 70 percent of all tech spending is expected to go for cloud solutions
- The Global AI market is expected to reach $89.8 billion
Technology grows old and obsolete in the speed of light requiring due diligence in predicting markets into the future. Companies must continuously reinvent themselves by investigating the technologies of the future.
2. Investing in People
The combination of technical skills and soft skills is needed in today’s workplaces. Rather than leaders becoming dependent on technology to communicate with their teams, employees want the opportunity to engage with colleagues, managers and senior leaders. They crave ‘real’ connection, spontaneous conversations, face to face.
3. Employees Crave Human Connection
Companies must invest in engagement activities by involving employees in business planning processes and engaging employees to create their own onboarding experiences such as building a scavenger hunt onboarding game. Alternatively, companies can make an internal employee-focused magazine or host TEDx-like Talks where employees get to share ideas, encourage innovation and boost morale within the culture. For office managers, they can create a coaching program based on aligning the company’s strategy, mission and values and how to recognize contribution and results.
4. Establish Clear Boundaries
Boundaries and standards are imperative of how communication must flow within the workplace. Office managers can set the tone, talk to their teams about expectations and standards when it comes to creating a healthy balance between work, family and other responsibilities. Actions speak volumes, so managers must lead by example. By setting the tone, office managers will lead in defining the culture and maintaining healthy, working relationships among your employees.
5. Not Always Being On
Fast-paced digitally distracted lifestyles have amplified burnout. Blind conducted a survey, a social network for the workplace, of thousands of employees from tech companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon and unveiled that over half of the respondents reported they were currently suffering job burnout. A study by Kronos found a negative work culture caused 56 percent of burnout.
When burnout infects your work, it stains all your life. Burned-out employees are more likely to make mistakes, put less effort into their job and productivity decreases. One way to break through burnout is to identify what drains you and what gives you energy. Tim Cook, Apple CEO shared how he manages his digital distractions by reducing his screen time and limiting the number of notifications he receives on his iPhone.
Leverage Technology to Improve Company Culture
The potent mix of technology and culture can revolutionize internal systems and breathe new life into your company. When technology and culture intersect, companies can ignite employee productivity, engagement, transform how individuals collaborate and execute in the workplace. Poor culture can hamper a company’s ability to reach its goals, but technology can place the company back on track. By being a master of technology, companies can recalibrate their relationship with technology to support company culture, grow their people and business.
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