It is no secret that technology is now well and truly a part of our everyday lives. And this is true for both our work and home lives.
Have you ever suddenly felt a wave of panic when you think you’ve lost your phone? I definitely have. Not being able to communicate or find information at the push of a button is a real inconvenience to say the least. But this is a product of the modern world and it could be affecting our work lives too.
Technology in the Workspace
Originally, introducing technology to the workplace was a way to aid business, making processes more efficient for employees. However, certain technologies may have, in truth become more of a distraction.
Of course, this is not true in all sectors or for all technologies. Those which support production for example, making construction or manufacturing quicker and easier are productivity heroes. But when it comes to communication or connectivity, the human element seems to create issues.
E-mails are a prime example of a technology that on the surface makes our working days easier. However, in reality they can be a source of constant bombardment and distraction.
Being involved in group e-mails that aren’t directly addressing you, receiving endless marketing e-mails or simply receiving social e-mails all distract employees from their daily tasks. Many people become overwhelmed with e-mails, so much so, they feel compelled to check them in personal time.
According to Personnel Today, “Workers spend as much as 50% of their average eight hour working day dealing with emails, although only about 14% are crucial to their work.” What’s more, e-mails will usually ping through to multiple devices meaning that even whilst out of the office or away from the desk, e-mails are impossible to ignore.
The introduction of e-mails into the work place has also brought about another distraction – meetings. Being able to organise a meeting via a quick, group invite on outlook has led to appointments for just about anything.
Again, Personnel today reports that, “the average professional attends about 60 meetings per month but managers believe that 30% of the time spent in such meetings is wasted.” And this is if the meetings even go ahead. Much of the time employees dedicate time to a meeting that is then cancelled last minute causing an unnecessary loss of productivity.
Before such technologies, organising a meeting was a little more laborious and was therefore reserved for the most important issues. Today however, people don’t even have to be in the same country let alone the same room to hold a meeting.
The various types of video calls such as Skype and Google Hangouts allow numerous people from all over the world to gather together and share ideas within seconds.
It isn’t only exciting applications that slow down our productivity either. Outdated or isolated IT systems are also a major cause of lost productivity for businesses.
When you have multiple teams trying to work together that are suffering IT difficulties, it can result in a serious lack of communication. This then leads to duplicated work or the unnecessary reworking of tasks to bring them in line with the team.
‘Always On’ Syndrome
Boiling all of this down, we come back around to the opening point of this blog, the ‘always on’ syndrome of modern society.
We are lost without the convenience of modern technology and the idea that things are instantly accessible or available. But of course, this doesn’t come without a demanding drawback.
Talking to Personnel Today, Korn Ferry Hay Group (KFHG) explains: “So many people simply aren’t present. Technology is enabling them to have monkey-minds and jump between lots of things but it’s really bad for productivity. They think they’re multi-tasking, but they’re not really focusing properly on anything.”
Preventing these technologies from becoming a distraction in the workplace is all about moderation. Introducing techniques such as the periodical checking of e-mails rather than answering them as and when could significantly reduce distractions and hence increase productivity.
Putting in place processes and guidelines on using technology in the workplace is one of the best ways to help prevent it affecting your core work. When smartly integrated into business, technology can help streamline processes, make tasks faster and even improve on the quality of the work produced. However, with the digital world at our fingertips it seems that a little discipline and regulation is necessary to stop these priceless tools becoming a distraction to our working lives.