As we continue into the 21st century, it seems like there are new technological advances on a daily basis, and those advances are beginning to embed themselves into the workplace. Technology in the Workplace is truly changing the way we work — we are no longer chained to our desks, but rather always have a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone in hand.
There are a few cons to having technology fill a prominent role in your business, but the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages. The primary drawbacks include dependency, the constant need to upgrade and possible negative effects on workplace relationships. While the benefits include, but are not limited to, changing communication, increasing efficiency and motivating employees.
Finding ways to integrate technology in the workplace and work environment is key to keeping up with the trends that are pushing the workplace to be more and more involved and invested in ever-changing technologies.
Disadvantages & Impact of Technology in the Workplace:
Upgrades: As technology changes every day, naturally, there can be changes to systems and programs, which would require upgrades as simple as downloading the newest version. But if you need to upgrade your system very often, it can be time-consuming as well as expensive.
Dependency: Depending heavily on computer systems can become a problem if there is a technical glitch. If the system crashes, everything freezes and the business could come to a standstill until the issue is resolved. In addition, when new technology is brought in, there is a learning process that can lead to a loss in productivity. And finally, if technology or computer systems are at the core of your business, it becomes nearly impossible for employees to get anything done outside of the office.
Workplace Relationships: Increasing the presence of technology changes methods of communication throughout the workplace. Using digital technology in the workplace with phones, text messages, email or video conferencing tools decrease the amount of face-to-face communication.
Interpersonal relationships and communications are important in order to establish a functional workplace and technology can negatively impact those relations. Working relationships and overall company ambiance can also be affected by technology, leading to a distracted workforce. The growing use of social networks can affect the productivity and efficiency of employees at work.
Also read: 8 Best Employee Engagement Strategies
Benefits of Technology in the Workplace:
Communication: Although there can be a negative impact on communication from technology, the positive results outweigh them. First and foremost, there is a variety of virtual communication tools that exist, allowing employees to communicate in a number of ways. These tools can increase efficiency and productivity as it permits interactions not only in the same office but also from one location to the other.
Furthermore, there are other tools that allow screens to be shared or that facilitate the sharing of files and information with ease and security. These tools not only increase the efficiency of communication among employees, but they can also help with communication with customers.
Efficiency: Encouraging innovation and creativity through access to different business technology tools is a useful strategy to increase productivity and efficiency. Having the newest technology available can enable employees to produce better work, it can encourage healthy competition in the workplace and make your company gain an edge over competing companies.
Technology also enhances flexibility from a spatial point of view. If companies make their content available across different technological platforms, employees can just bring their smartphone, laptop or tablet for more collaborative work, which reduces time spent on tasks. Introducing technology into the workplace also allows employees to choose their own devices, thus promoting the idea of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
Role of Technology in Today’s Lives:
More than 3.7 billion humans use the internet, and the global mobile data traffic is projected to increase nearly sevenfold between 2016 and 2021. This reinstates the fact that end users are spending more time on their mobile devices. According to a Nielsen report, 1.2 million terabytes of data is generated in the US annually just by smartphone users alone. Mobile digital media time in the US is significantly higher compared to desktop, according to the data from e-marketer and KPCB. For the Gen Y employees, mobiles and tablets are the preferred devices for media consumption.
Since technology has taken center stage, it seems as though an innovative approach has taken over how we live, work and play. As the world we live in starts to drift away from the physical workplace, what role can technology play? With Cloud technology, working remotely is now a reality. In the United States, the number of workers telecommuting has grown by 115% since 2005.
It is clear that there is a continuous shift in the workplace, which is enhanced by the development of cloud-based collaboration tools and the increased use of mobile devices. Based on an article published by Insight UK, 79% of senior managers believe that the “anywhere, anytime” work trend is inevitable and 86% of those managers believe most successful companies would be willing to make the transformation. There is a direct tie between the continuing shift in workplace innovations and the benefits of social collaborative work.
Technologies such as cloud computing/storage, use of tablets or smartphones, social media and mobile apps have majorly transformed the working patterns. The use of these technologies has a positive impact on productivity through an increase in collaborative work — 131% increase in operational efficiency and a 22% increase in on-time project delivery.
There is no way to avoid the increasing presence of technology in the workplace. Although there are a handful of disadvantages to this trend, it is inevitable, so why not embrace it and focus on all the positives it brings.
What makes a successful and productive workplace is the presence of motivated employees who are able to efficiently and consistently produce quality work. Finding cost effective and time efficient solutions is a must to keep employers and employees happy.
Taking advantage of technologies that have been designed to enable collaborative workplaces to thrive is a key task in assuring a fluid work environment. Technology is always changing and is going to keep integrating into the workforce as it continues to have a positive impact on productivity levels and on overall workforce performance.
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