Thursday, 14 December 2017

Technology - More or Less?

Just about everyone I have spoken to these last 2 weeks is referencing relief that 2017 is drawing to a close.

Across the board, it seems 2017 has been a more stressful, demanding and exhausting year than ever before.


The advance year by year in technology means that never before have we had so much help and support in the workplace.

Data that once took a few days to extract and compile, we can now consume in real time. Decisions can be made and an advantage exploited or a measure corrected, in real time.

How much easier and less stressful is that?

Information can now flow directly from the client in to the business data base whereas once there was a need for a manual intervention. The client information is now updated in real time, whereas not long ago it would be an overnight process.

Transactions and enquiries now take place on-line, taking out the stress associated with the personal interaction of a face to face or phone based staff member.

Again, a far less stressful situation, allegedly?

And, no longer do we need to get up from our workspace and move to another place for a meeting. We can click a couple of times at the pre-arranged time and all connect via computer and have a virtual face to face meeting on our screens.

None of the stress of walking, catching a lift and finding the domiciled meeting room.

How about those pesky phone conversations, where individual expression and personality shone through? Thankfully, there is little need for this stressful activity now as we use the inhouse instant messenger system.

Is it any wonder as 2017 draws to a close there are more expressions than ever of exhaustion, stress, frustration and desperation?

Again, with all the technological assistance, it is meant to be easier, not harder.

What we no longer have is the same level of personal interactions with colleagues and customers.

Further, the personal conversations we do have be they face to face or by phone will tend to confrontational.

The customer complaint or service failure will be addressed by way of a direct communication.

The staff or people issue will be resolved by face to face negotiation.

Both are "confrontational".

We no longer have the “water cooler” conversation or the easy banter that accompanies the routine discussion. Discussions conducted via messenger or e-mail and meetings via video tend not to include such personal, perhaps trivial associated chat.

The removal of many of our personal interactions changes the way we feel about our workplace. We may not realise it when it is happening but I suggest it contributes to our overall sense of stress and fatigue.

Unknowingly, we may feel the work we do is less meaningful than it once was. My take is the increase in our electronic interactions in place of personal communications has resulted in our workplaces becoming less personal.

I usually aim to conclude observations such as these with some remediation action recommendations.

Efficiency and cost demands dictate an ever increasing drive for technological innovations, not less.

Our workplaces are changing rapidly and the common belief is many of the jobs currently in vogue will not exist in 10 years time.

Perhaps it will take this transition to “new work” and "new jobs” not yet envisioned to resolve the overall problem however until then, it may well be that it gets worse before it gets better.

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