By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
No matter what company you work for or what industry you’re in, your workplace is steeped in technological marvels. The smartphone, tablet, or computer you’re reading this article on is proof of that. The benefits of technology in the workplace are broad, but we’ve become so familiar with them that we need to remember what we’re capable of doing because of technology.
Take something as simple as CC’ing 10 people on an email instead of printing 10 copies of a memo and sending it through interoffice mail. It’s an everyday thing, but nonetheless amazing in context.
Look at any digital innovation and you’ll immediately see the impact of technology in the workplace. But we tend to think about it in terms of execution—how technology has changed the process. What are the advantages of technology in the workplace? To understand them, and to see how important technology is, look past the process and focus on the results.
- Develops efficiency: Look at the efficiency of email vs. snail mail, cloud vs. in-person collaboration, automated room booking vs. user-coordinated reservations. The list of technology-driven efficiencies is endless. Technology is designed to make work easier, and efficiency—a chief driver of technological innovation—is a natural byproduct.
- Makes work faster: There’s a difference between efficiency and speed. Workplace technology gives us both, and we need to appreciate them separately. Businesses need only look at their value stream to see technological speed at work. Technology reduces the time it takes us to do X by automating Y and Z. The result is faster time to market, faster realization of profit, and faster reinvestment into the value stream.
- Introduces uniformity: Technology operates on an input-output framework. This makes it easy for businesses to control both, creating consistency and uniformity in the workplace. Take a badging system, for example. Badges create uniformity across groups, allowing and denying them access where appropriate. Marketing’s badges allow access to floors one and two; Accounting’s to three; Sales to four and five; and executive badges to all floors. Every person gets to where they need to go because technology governs the input-output.
- Opens up communication: Email, instant messaging, and video chats make communication simple, no matter the situation. You can message someone across the world in seconds as easily as you can simultaneously video conference with five people in different time zones. This level of communication fosters everything from quicker decision-making to better relationships among coworkers, partners, and prospects.
- Encourages creativity: With collaboration and communication comes a natural inclination toward creativity. Technology stimulates creativity by giving individuals an outlet for their ideas. It could be as simple as using Pinterest to put together a mood board for a client or using a smartboard during a brainstorming session. Or, it’s more indirect, like allowing groups to automatically book a collaborative space where they can talk freely about their ideas. Technology serves as the basis for an outpouring of creativity.
- Improves adaptability: The speed and information technology affords us has led to adaptable workplaces. Entire teams can assess and respond to situations and changes in minutes, without falling off track or veering off course. Even beyond the speed of adaptability, the potential to find new, better solutions has also improved. Technology helps us make the best adjustment—not just the most obvious one.
- Enhances comfort: Technology breeds comfort in a roundabout way. Consider the smart thermostat that automatically adjusts to the optimal workplace temperature or the occupancy sensor that determines the ideal configuration for a space. These technologies create comfort in their own way—comfort that leads to better productivity, improved mood, and better focus.
- Increases profits: Combine efficiency, quickness, comfort, and other benefits of technology and you’ll see real results for your bottom line. Technology increases profits. Need proof? Look at the broad adoption of new technologies as they come to market. There’s great demand for technology because it eliminates waste and uncertainty, which trickles back in the form of cost savings and revenues. Technologies end up paying for themselves.
The importance of technology in the workplace is in its ability to shape how we work. It’s fine to marvel at today’s technologies and look at how far we’ve come. But what’s more important is looking ahead, at what technologies will herald new amazing workplace transformations. Innovations like the IoT, machine learning, 5G, and automation are here, changing how we do what we do right before our eyes. What benefits will these technologies bring? More of the same, or something brand new?
Keep reading: Technological Determinism Yields to User Determinism