Technology use in the workplace is a double-edged sword — it's essential for productivity, but it can also be a distraction. To be successful, managers must identify and implement the products that can drive the company forward, all while reducing the potential for workflow disruption.
With exciting new technology developments coming out frequently, it's easy to be overwhelmed by options. As a manager, you must choose wisely in terms of both products and timing. In most cases, there's no great advantage to being an immediate adopter. Instead, take time to examine your workflow and determine whether the benefits of the new product outweigh the workflow disruption that additional technology use might bring. If you feel strongly about a product, bring employees into the discussion to create ownership and reduce resistance to change. Moving gradually and obtaining buy-in as you go makes it easier to spot potential problems and smooth the transition.
In many offices, employees move seamlessly between smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers as they manage a variety of communication channels. This type of constant connectivity can lead to shorter attention spans and poor interpersonal relationships. If technology use is getting out of hand, it's a manager's duty to restore balance. Consider the worst offenders, such as texting during meetings or personal social media use, and find solutions. Ban electronic devices during staff meetings, for example, or ask employees to limit their personal social media use. Be wary of all-out bans or Big-Brother-style monitoring, however — in a world where employees are essentially on call at all hours, they are unreasonable and can cause irreparable damage to the company culture.
Technology use can increase productivity, particularly when it becomes second nature. To get to that point, however, employees must put in the hours to learn and integrate the system into their workflows. Shorten the learning curve for each new product by providing training. Start with basic operational instructions, and offer helpful tips and shortcuts to help workers get the most from each product. Keep your audience in mind when planning training sessions, and remember that millennials might have a different native knowledge than baby boomers. Effective, targeted education can save days of frustration and inefficient operation.
Plan for Downtime
If your company relies heavily on technology use for everyday tasks, an internet or server outage can bring operations to a crashing halt. A downtime plan can prevent you from losing valuable hours. Start by identifying all of the tasks that can be done without access to computers, the Internet or the office server, such as filing, phone calls and office organization. Assign a person to each task, print the document and keep it in a convenient place. During maintenance or unexpected service lapses, this small step can reduce wasted time and help employees stay productive.
Rampant technology use is an unavoidable part of the modern workplace — one that's not going away. With the right managerial approach, you can manage tech products and create a healthy balance between online and offline work.
Photo courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net