In an age where no industry is left untouched by innovations and new tools, workplace tech
can be a tricky issue. Hardly a day passes without a glaring headline about automation stealing jobs. For some, new technologies at work may lead to fears related to job security. For others, training on the newest tools builds confidence that company leaders are equipping them to do their best work.
Business leaders are faced with the task of convincing their employees that workplace technology exists to improve and augment the way they work, not complicate it. There’s a problem, though: Most of the technology integrated in modern business isn’t designed with real users in mind. Additionally, popular consumer technologies have built a steady momentum in team members’ lives. Those advances have catalyzed expectations that job-based enterprise technology should feel familiar, efficient and simple to use.
The market is swamped with time-consuming and counterproductive tools. Providing technology that actually makes people’s jobs easier is a feat in and of itself. How do you know if the tools you’ve deployed as a business leader are helping engage and retain talent? Here are some signs you’re doing it right.
Technology blends seamlessly with the many ways employees work.
Who wants to answer seven questions from a chatbot to schedule a meeting invitation when you can accomplish the same task in just three clicks? Well-designed technology must be unassuming and unintimidating. It should be so seamlessly integrated into the way your team works that you and your employees don’t even notice you’re using it. In short, it fades into the background.
Complexity is no excuse for bad tools. Your end-user doesn’t care what’s under the hood; he or she just wants it to work. As a business leader, you should choose technology that allows people to access the tool and get what they need. Often, companies tend to embrace new technologies simply for the sake of having the latest and greatest. Start with this instead: Ask how the tool will be useful to your company and your team.
Users can be more human.
Provide your employees with technology that frees them up so they can focus on value-adding assignments. Automate any functional duties that software can do as well as (or better than) a person. Culling resumes, approving time sheets and filling open shifts all can be automated. These tasks are based on strict logic, predictable inputs and sets of rules than can be programmed, scaled and repeated. Then, reallocate the time freed up by technology. Allow your people to concentrate on areas that require more human aptitudes, such as relationship-building, creative problem-solving, consulting and strategic thinking.
Tools foster collaboration among different teams.
It’s no secret that collaboration produces more creative thinking than does working in silos. To do their best work, your team members need a diversity of perspectives and face-to-face interaction. The combination builds cohesion and drives innovation.
It’s possible that some workplace technology could pull employees further apart. On the other hand, successful technology can bridge gaps between teams who think and operate in different ways. For example, a designer and a finance manager typically speak two different languages in their day-to-day jobs. Bringing them together on a common platform enables them to easily share ideas in a space that translates well for both parties. Do this, and you’ll harness the power of cross-team collaboration.
Successfully navigating the work-meets-technology landscape has grown more difficult as new tech is released, and the current pace can be hard to match. Still, you must ensure that efficacy is a real value in any new tools you roll out to your staff. Take time to examine whether your proposed tech solution will free employees up to accomplish great work — or waste their time developing workarounds because the tool isn’t the right fit.
Originally published for Entrepreneur – Written by: Martha Bird Social Anthropologist