"By embracing the idea that these machines are actually valuable colleagues, we as people will perform better and be happier. " - Nadjia Yousif
One of the most critical skills in today’s workplace is to be tech-savvy and able to effectively collaborate with others through digital tools.
Businesses are transforming the way they work with the help of technology, seeing huge opportunities in efficiency and productivity as well as relying on employees who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their daily operations.
Digital progress has reshaped the way we communicate and has made business processes more integrated and streamlined than ever before. In other words, the tools we use have become an indispensable part of our everyday work and lives.
The digital struggle is real, though.
For better or worse, being connected to our work tools 24/7 is negatively affecting us and we are not adjusting well to this reality. A workplace survey from 2018 shows that 73% of workers in Australia feel constantly connected to technology and cannot completely shut off from it (causing a huge level of tech stress).
If we don’t define a more balanced relationship, the relationship between technology and humans may deteriorate further—and it will impact both workers and the companies that employ them.
In fact, companies end up spending billions on software and workplace tools that are not used, which is resulting in a substantial waste of modern-day resources. In a 2016 report by 1E, it was estimated that American companies wasted 37% (or $30 billion) of their software dollars over the course of the four-year study. In turn, that waste is blocking budget allocation to the digital tools that would actually truly transform how their work is done.
How Did We End Up Here?
There are several reasons for this misuse. The same report reveals that CIOs are not concerned with driving down costs, and have instead turned their focus towards adding value.
Saving money by eliminating software waste is, therefore, often seen as a cost-cutting exercise and is knocked down the list of priorities. This, in turn, contributes to companies not benefiting from the numerous ways that controlling and reducing software waste, a.k.a shelf-ware, adds value to the business.
But there is something else that has an impact on the quality of our engagement with our workplace technology.
Management’s expectation of the benefits of introducing new tools in the workplace is very high. And setting the bar high isn’t unreasonable. By providing the budget, they anticipate that the purchased software and digital collaboration tools will be used in order to save time and improve overall employee performance.
However, the reality is that many of the people who should be using these tools daily are skeptical and see automation as a direct threat to their day-to-day responsibilities. The fear that robots will soon take over the majority of tasks currently done by humans only grows when companies neglect to provide the support and training to help everyone learn how the features and functions of these tools will actually help them improve their work.
The more that technology is entering our work lives, and the less we understand the value of implementing key solution features into internal processes, the more tense our relationship with it becomes.
If we don’t provide the resources for it, like with a team knowledge base for example, we end up ignoring it and building a resistance against learning more, or just stressing out further…
🤖 In a relationship? It’s complicated.
What Can We Do About It?
Nadjia Yousif designs and implements programs for large corporations and financial services so they can adapt to new technologies and thrive with them.
She argues that if we humanize our contact with technology and collaboration software, we will not only perform better but our experience will be joyful and bring happiness. Some 58% of American workers turn to company-sponsored skills training to combat workplace stress caused by factors driven by technology. Your organization can contribute to the well-being of each employee by encouraging them to talk about the digital tools in the workplace and how they set them up for long-term success.
Luckily, the process to connect humans with technology is fairly simple.
As a lover of creating org charts, Nadjia Yousif reasons how including technology in a new type of chart can visualize and emphasize the relationship between people and software.
Visualize your technology as coworkers with org charts: Source
Then, asking questions such as “Does this man and machine team work well together?" or "Is that technology actually the team member that everybody is awkwardly avoiding?" will allow you to explore how the human team members and the technology team members are struggling or excelling.
This type of visual display, paired with discussion, will also better show whether one employee or team has technology overload and if some of these digital tools can be passed over to someone else or another team.
It will take a matter of minutes for most people to draw out a structure of who they work with, a little bit longer to add in the technologies to get a view of the entire team, and then you can have fun asking questions like, "Which are the technologies that I'll be taking out for coffee?"
Nadjia Yousif explains further: “Schedule regular performance reviews for the software, where the employees should give feedback to the provider itself. It's worth taking the time to think about ways to make those relationships truly collaborative.”
The idea is that everyone benefits from a more engaged relationship with their work tools. By sharing a bit of humanity with the technology and collaboration software at work, you can better connect how you use these tools together in order to increase productivity, reduce security risk, and save money.
Here’s what you can achieve from implementing a similar process:
- Drive Awareness: The exercise of creating the org chart lets everyone think about their relationship with the technology they use on a daily basis at work.
- Optimize Usage: Clear roles and benefits are outlined and more opportunities can be unlocked in the process. Including a dialogue with the provider of the tool helps take align with the business needs.
- Identify Ownership: Some software might not have a clear relationship to anyone. It could need a job description or maybe someone to manage it.
- Reduce Waste: Identify which tools are not being used by your teams and which ones need to be retired.
If you hope to optimize the use of software in your company by getting everyone to use Trello, this guide will get your team off on the right foot.
And for more insight on how your team can treat its tech with more compassion, watch Nadija Yousif’s full talk here: “Why you should treat the tech you use at work like a colleague”