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How Technology is Challenging the Human Side of Business

It may seem strange to have a series about technology on a blog about the “human side of business.”

The thing is, technology impacts our workplaces and our culture like never before. To the same degree, it also provides ways to better connect, communicate and engage with your employees. I am excited to join Switch & Shift to write about how leaders can understand and use technology to create awesome culture and more human workplaces.

Let’s start with how technology is impacting work. There are so many factors here, and I’ll focus on three that stand out as affecting engagement and culture significantly.

The thing is, technology impacts our workplaces and our culture like never before

We are always connected to work.

When is the last time you checked your work email after the hours of nine-to-five? Only a couple decades ago, laptops were rare at work, and until recently smartphones didn’t exist. For many of us, when we left the office, we left work. Some of us even had the traditional 8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, and 8 hours of rest on most days.

If you’re anything like me, you can’t remember a time when you had a day like that. In fact, a recent study by the Centre for Creative Leadership found that those of us who have smartphones are now working an average of 72 hours per week.

The impact this has on our lives, and on our perception and sentiments about work, is significant. Many of us have had to give up our volunteer work or find ourselves unfocused while with our family and friends, being drawn into work-mode when our smartphone flashes. When we find ourselves spending more time with work, we expect more of our workplace. Purpose, connectedness, and flexibility have become important in organizations.

We have the ability to work anywhere there is Wi-Fi.

In the days of desktop computers and bulletin board memos, we had to be in our office to get our work done. Today, technology

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allows us to work from home, from our favorite coffee shop (nick-named the “coffice” for those who make this a habit), or from the beach while on vacation. Wi-Fi hotspots continue to pop up everywhere, with some cities making free Wi-Fi available throughout their core areas.

With this technological capability comes the challenge of connecting a dispersed workforce. How do you manage performance, encourage collaboration, or build culture when your people are not in the same place together every day? The good news is, although technology has helped to cause this concern, it also offers resolutions. We’ll share software and apps that help build connectedness, collaboration and engagement in future posts.

We share our experiences frictionlessly.

Social media has changed how we communicate with our friends, customers and co-workers. For “digital natives” who have grown up with platforms like Facebook and Twitter, sharing what happened at work today is just as common as sharing their weekend activities with friends, or a picture of a great meal at a favorite restaurant.

Social media has changed how we communicate with our friends, customers and co-workers.

The impact of regular people sharing their experiences and thoughts is that a corporate message is no longer as effective. Your marketing brand and your employer brand are what your employees say it is. In fact, in Edelman’s annual Trust barometer, they have found that CEOs consistently rank far below “Regular Employee,” “Person like yourself,” and “Company technical expert” regarding who people trust.

When you dive deeper into results, you find that a company’s employee is trusted more than twice as much (47 percent) than the CEO (at 21 percent) when it comes to engagement. This makes what your employees are sharing critically important to attracting the best talent, which, once again, means that your organization’s culture is important.

Here’s the good news.

The good news is that technology not only creates engagement challenges, it also creates huge opportunities to alleviate these challenges and to create more engaged and human workplaces.

There is a new form of literacy in the world of work. It’s what I call “Digital Fluency”, and is critical in today’s fast-paced, social and digital world. Digital Fluency is the ability to use technology to communicate, collaborate and connect with customers and coworkers, and the proclivity to learn and adopt new technologies to get work done.

In future posts, we’ll discuss how technology can help you develop an engaged workforce, from techniques to specific software and applications that help you keep a pulse on the engagement of your team, encourage sharing of ideas, and even get work done more efficiently. There is a whole world of technology aimed at helping leaders build stronger culture and engagement, and we’ll navigate that world and share technology that will help you with your specific business challenges.


Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Pam Ross believes that corporate doesn’t have to be a curse word and that work shouldn’t suck. After 15 years in HR and Operations leadership in the corporate world, she quit her job with a mission to reinvent work for the masses. Pam collaborates with leaders to develop themselves and their organization’s culture, building more engaged and innovative workplaces where people are free to do their best work. Pam is a sought after speaker about social media and the workplace and the future of work, and is the founder of the Reinvent Work Summit. She is the co-author of the Blueprint for Workplace Reinvention, a Handbook for Leaders. Connect with Pam on Twitter or at pamross.ca When Pam is not shaking up the work world, she can be found on the trails with her dog Piper or sipping wine and playing board games with friends and family.

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