Technology is integral to life outside of work, so why neglect it inside work?
By Adam Henderson, Modern Workforce Expert
There’s no doubt that technology is pervasive and that it’s become entrenched in how we live our lives. This is true for almost all of us across the world, no matter who or where we are. It has impacted how we shop, communicate, learn and even relax. Yet, when many people go to work it feels like they’re stepping into an alternate universe where the use of technology and new ways of working simply don’t exist, or at the very least feel years behind.
The simple fact is that the use of new technology has brought with it a fundamental change not only in our behaviour but also in our expectations. One of the most notable changes is in how increasingly, people are becoming used to being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, simply at the touch of a button, whether that’s ordering their weekly food shopping, streaming a movie they want to watch, or looking up information.
Yet this is often in contrast to what many employees experience in their workplace. For example, access to information is often restricted, not freely available or easy to find; communicating is confined to emails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings, learning is restricted to pre-defined classroom based courses, and tools used regularly outside of work are often blocked or their use restricted.
This marked difference in how technology is used inside vs. outside of work is resulting in employees living a double-life, where they are forced to operate and behave completely differently at work than they do the rest of the time. This results in two outcomes:
- Employees become unengaged and demotivated at work because they find it frustrating and too difficult to do their job due to the restrictions imposed on them and the lack of access to the right tools
- Employees using their own devices (BYOD) and apps to do their job in a way that is more intuitive to them, which then creates a big issue around data security as information is freely passed around with little accountability and a fragmentation of working practices.
Evidence of these outcomes is already being felt across industries. For example, a recent study by Gallup showed that 87% of employees were unengaged at work, and research conducted by Microsoft showed 67% of employees already use their own device to access company information whether their business approves or not.
So what is the answer? Simply put, businesses needn’t fear technology or indeed resist it. Instead, they should embrace it and understand how these emerging technologies can be used to their full potential and provide a way for employees to feel engaged and able to do their job in a more intuitive way. Trying to ignore the fact that modern employees want to work in new ways, which has largely been facilitated by technology, is a recipe for disaster as employees have already demonstrated they will do it anyway.
A simple example of how businesses can begin to embrace technology in a way that benefits employers and employees alike, is to change how they do the corporate favourite: the annual all-company meeting. Pitched as a way for the leadership team to disseminate information to a large number of employees in a short space of time, an all-company meeting is in fact very expensive and increasingly difficult to execute in a global workplace. This is because it requires the entire business (or at least a very large section of the business) to stop work, which can account for 100s if not 1000s of lost working hours, just so the management team can share the latest information. Instead, the content intended for such sessions could be filmed and shared digitally with all the disparate teams to watch at a time that is convenient to them. This content can also be tailored to the respective teams by including only the most relevant parts for them, rather than delivering a one-size-fits-all update. This would save both time and money, as the talks would only need to be delivered once and employees would only spend time consuming what is relevant to them. It’s also more intuitive and flexible for employees to consume, which in turn will help increase their engagement levels.
Although this is a relatively simple example of how businesses can use technology to bridge this gap, each organisation will have its own challenges with regards to technology adoption dependent on its culture and industry. So, whether your organisation is technologically savvy or not, there will be room for improvement in how the ways of doing things in your work place better align with the ways of doing things outside of work. This in turn will improve employee engagement and business performance as a result.
There is no doubt that bridging the technology gap between what people experience in their personal lives and what they experience in the workplace needs to be a top business priority. By providing the right environment and the right technology to go with it, employees will no longer feel they have to use their own unsecure devices and external software just to get their job done. This will not only dramatically improve data security, but also improve employee engagement and deliver all the positive benefits that go with it!
About the Author
On Tuesday 30 May, Adam will be running a FREE webinar, ‘How to retain a rapidly evolving modern workforce’, alongside the 3radical team to share more insights on the key motivators of modern employees and what businesses can do to retain them and stay ahead of the competition in the fight for talent.
Adam will also be a guest speaker at our upcoming event ‘Winning in the Engagement Economy’, which is being help on Wednesday June 14 at the Museum of Brands in London.