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When people are unhappy, it’s natural that they look for a scapegoat. When it comes to the radical transformation taking place in the work environment, technology is often the target. It’s blamed for suppressing face-to-face interaction and overwhelming employees with tsunamis of information. But a close, objective look shows those charges to be baseless. In fact, the digitization of the workplace is reshaping corporate culture for the better.
“Technology is enabling workers to be more in control of their experience at work,” says Shane Green, author of Culture Hacker and a consultant who works with organizations such as the National Basketball Association and BMW to revamp corporate culture settings for future success.
Technology gives connected employees greater access to records and makes it easier for them to modify health or retirement benefits. It enables ongoing training via e-learning, which lets workers learn at their own pace.
Rather than inhibiting interaction, technology enables a deeper, more meaningful level of communication. “It allows more people to be involved in performance conversations by making it easy to contribute thoughts or deliver peer-to-peer recognition,” Green says. Business leaders can monitor employees’ thoughts and needs on a continuous basis rather than getting feedback just once a year in an annual performance review.
Physical Interaction Is Not Always Necessary
There is no doubt that face-to-face interaction continues to play a valuable role in business, but it’s not always necessary. That’s where technology comes in. “By enabling a clear and constant flow of communication from top to bottom, technology makes information sharing more effective--without the need of getting together physically,” says Steffen Zoller, CEO of Kununu Engage, a feedback tool that helps businesses increase employee engagement and transparency.
Work-life balance is an increasingly important issue in today’s competitive recruitment environment. “These days, achieving a healthy work-life balance would be impossible without technology,” Zoller says. It’s made constraints like location a non-issue in many work situations. The rise of mobile devices and the shift to the cloud makes it easy for people to work remotely. “Plus, it helps us to be more accessible at any time for colleagues and peers,” he says.
It takes the right combination of hardware and software to maximize technology’s benefits in the digital workplace. Software applications to improve collaboration, communication, productivity, training, career development, continuous feedback, customer relationship management, and more are getting cheaper and more accessible all the time. Most often, they reside in the cloud, so hardware choices take on increased importance.
“Tablets are mobilizing workers everywhere to improve many aspects of their jobs,” Green says. They provide workers with easy access to their own information, communication, and training. “Desktops still drive most of the heavy lifting for day-to-day business, but mobile devices give workers quick and easy access to customer information and facilitate interactions.”
Laptops Excel for Content Creation
Laptops remain an essential tool for both workers and business leaders in the digital economy. “Laptops are not going away. I personally still carry one because, for serious content creation, nothing beats it,” says RJ Bardsley, chief strategist for technology at Racepoint Global, an integrated marketing communications agency. “I love the recent improvements we’ve seen across the board in flexibility, size, and touchscreens. But battery and weight are, hands-down, the most important aspects of a laptop for me.”
Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com, a provider of online educational and training resources, says portable technology is making collaboration easier and preventing employees from feeling burnt out by being stuck at their desks all the time. “Thanks to all the hardware options, employees can easily get a change of scenery by working somewhere else in the office or even enjoying the nice weather outside.”
Technology’s role in reshaping corporate culture will only become more pronounced going forward. “In an era defined by the war for talent, companies have realized that they need to keep a close on eye on their employees’ satisfaction levels and a sound company culture,” Zoller says. “By providing the smart tools that help companies thrive, tech can definitely help in creating a better workplace for all.”
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