Technology continues to transform the world of business – and it’s also completely changed how employees work. While telecommuting and being in constant touch with clients often seem like good things, factors like working longer hours in an always-connected world, spending less time together physically, and using fewer critical-thinking skills can cause productivity challenges for employees.
“The key to a company’s success lies in knowing when and where to use technology,” writes Tony DiCostanzo for the Society of Human Resource Management. Here are three ways to make technology work better for your company and employees.
1. Encourage critical thinking.
Thanks to Google, employees have the answer to any simple question at their fingertips. As a result, critical thinking skills can suffer. “When working with clients or attending important company meetings, suggest that employees rely solely on their innate ability to listen attentively and take written notes the old-fashioned way,” DiCostanzo writes.
You can also provide professional development that encourages employees to learn using face-to-face discussion and self-led learning, Rony Zarom writes for entrepreneur.com. “Establish a means for employees to continue to share best practices they’ve learned in the field,” he writes. “This will not only create a real-time problem-solving community, but also deliver continuous improvements to foundational training materials and activities.”
2. Allow your culture to address the challenges of technology.
Ravi Gajedran, a professor at the University of Illinois’ College of Business, has studied telecommuting and finds it’s a tool that can make the best employees feel more special. However, managers must factor telecommuting in when working with employees, and realize it comes with challenges of space and a lack of face time, he says in a news release.
“Even though there is no physical team, leaders need more one-on-one interaction with their virtual team members,” Gajedran said. “In other words, leadership needs to be uniquely tailored to the team members rather than dictated from on high. It’s about building a relationship with each member, and that requires slightly more effort than it would in a normal workplace setting.”
3. Give employees the right tools to manage technology well.
Technology is a tool, and you’ll want to make sure those working for you know how to use it best. Training on using organizational tools, voice-to-text software, and calendar systems can help all your employees work smarter, with less stress, Robin Christopherson writes for PersonnelToday.com.
“Computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones have all been designed to solve problems for us, make our businesses more efficient and ultimately make our lives easier,” he writes. “ (They) can be used to overcome some of the natural stressors that we encounter at work.”