How to Navigate the New Realities of Technology in the Workplace

Technology has completely revolutionized the ways in which we work. From video-conferencing that allows employees to meet from anywhere in the world to wearable watches that notify us of emails while we’re out for a run, almost every area of business has been impacted by technology in some way, shape, or form.

And, while technology has created some significant advantages for our work, it also brings new challenges for employers. In this post, we want to highlight some of the pros and cons of technology in the workplace. We also want to share some specific processes and policies your business can use to ensure you’re benefiting from the advantages while mitigating the drawbacks.

The Pros of Technology in the Workplace

Here are a few of the most meaningful ways technology can improve your business:

  1. Efficiency & Enjoyment. There are hundreds of different ways technology has improved the way employees do their jobs and complete tasks more efficiently. Not only does this eliminate the wasted time employees used to spend on the same repetitive tasks, it also strengthens performance and improves job satisfaction.
  2. Communication & Collaboration. By creating the opportunity to work remotely, technology has given employees the opportunity to work from anywhere and businesses the advantage of being able to hire new staff from anywhere in the country. Additionally, technology also breaks down barriers between departments through collaborative apps, such as Trello and Evernote, for working on projects with team members.
  3. Automation & Accuracy. Another advantage of new technology is that it allows companies to automate functions that previously required employee interaction. Tasks like data entry, analytics, bookkeeping, and contact management can be partially or completely automated, which allows businesses to work more efficiently without the risk of human error.

The Cons of Technology in the Workplace

In addition to the benefits it provides, technology has also created numerous challenges and distractions for today’s workforce:

  • Distractions & Disconnectedness. We all know how the ping of a new notification on a smartphone can distract you from the task at hand. This has become a serious challenge for many businesses, especially when it comes to the ways in which we engage each other. According to a recent study, 47% of workers reported that the biggest issue in meetings is that their colleagues are distracted or not paying attention. 
  • Over-Accessibility & Burn Out. The ability to connect anytime, anywhere is both a blessing and a curse. Two of the top three contributors to employee burnout are an unreasonable workload and too much overtime or after-hours work. The access and availability that technology provides also means that work is just a text or an email away. 
  • Lost Productivity. It’s been well-documented that social media could be costing the U.S. economy almost $900 billion in hypothetically lost labor. When you combine the addictive nature of social media (or other apps) with the fact that employees now have their personal phones on them at all times, it creates a whole new world of distractions.

How to Adapt to the New Realities of Technology in the Workplace 

While you may not enjoy hearing statistics about the disadvantages of technology in the workplace, the reality is that it’s not going to change any time soon. So, how can you adapt and create processes and policies that set your business up to thrive? Here are a few quick tips:

  • Create a policy for technology usage. Be sure to detail all your expectations about technology usage in your employee handbook. Having a common reference point for all technology guidelines and policies will hold everyone accountable to your expectations.
  • Be intentional about creating opportunities for real connection. At its worst, technology creates an emotional distance between people. This requires you to be more intentional about finding opportunities to create personal connections within your team and with your customers. Whether it’s creating a policy to eliminate devices in meetings or hosting in-person events, it’s important that employees stay connected internally and externally.
  • Lead by example. As a leader within the organization, you set the example of appropriate technology usage for your employees by adhering to your own regulations. Managers and executives set the tone for what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to technology usage, and the staff will imitate what they see in management.

At the end of the day, technology is a tool that can have positive or negative effects on the work culture. In order to maximize the benefits of technology (while steering clear of the disadvantages), it’s important for your organization to have a clear roadmap for navigating current and emerging technology in the workplace.