Technology has rapidly grown and changed the world. It has become a part of society and plays an important role in helping both work and personal lives. Businesses have been reshaped, computers help complete tasks and make many processes more streamlined. Phones and video calls connect people from all parts of the world enabling important meetings to be held and decisions made to save the time and money of having to fly in to a meeting. A wide range of information and data is openly accessible on the Internet making learning new tasks and seeking additional help or knowledge easier. But
At Greater Sudbury Utilities (GSU), there has been a push towards incorporating more technology to help automate processes and make menial tasks more efficient. Leaving behind the days of paper work orders and paper contracts, most can now be found and filed securely online. No longer do employees have to be worried about losing an important document or digging through paper files to look for data. With technology’s advantages also comes disadvantages. This paper will address how technology is an important factor driving society, while acknowledging its limitations as businesses continue to innovate and create new products with the help of technology.
Advantages of Technology in the Workplace
Technology is changing the way employees communicate within the workplace. The use of text message and video conference services allow employees from different departments to exchange information (Wallace 2014). Through technology, employees can engage in work outside the office while keeping in touch with colleagues at the office through calls (Cairo, 2014). People are connected anywhere at any time which makes communication between employees and managers more flexible and instantaneous (Wallace, 2014). The increased collaboration encourages teamwork and bonding between employees.
Encourages Innovation and Creativity
Innovation is important in a workplace because it gives companies the chance to bring fresh ideas to the market and provides solutions to make products or company methods more efficient (Beblavy et al., 2012). Encouraging employees to be innovative in the workplace and utilize the technology around them can be rewarding for a company. Innovation is not only creating new devices and ideas but can be uncovering methods to complete tasks differently (Beblavy et al., 2012).
At GSU, technology and innovation come hand in hand. There are numerous geo-apps available to create different products on. For example, Collector is an online tool that allows users to build a location-based app that captures and reports data. It enables field workers to collect assets and return field data, and also allows addition of photos, videos, or voice recordings per collection or work order. The data can be accessed in the office for further use in planning. New assets can be added anytime and will automatically sync and update the data between the app and online map. Collector can help manage and track assets of a company. Using Collector as a tool to innovate, users can create different apps for different purposes and help streamline and organize data and processes. Innovation should be encouraged in a workplace as it helps companies to solve challenges in a unique and creative way.
Efficiency and Saves Time
With technology, paper copies of documents can be replaced by a digital format which makes it easier to store and search for by keyword instead of sifting through numerous stacks of paper files (The Harvard Law Association, 1991). Information becomes easier and quicker to access which saves time. There are also numerous time management tools and applications that can help streamline processes. For example, using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can help a sales team track relationships with customers and prospects and provide analytical insights. CRM can help automate menial tasks such as notifying when a prospect becomes a customer making it easier for employees to track and contact or look up customers. These applications help optimize work and keep employees focused on task and meet deadlines.
Disadvantages of Technology in the Workplace
Causes Distraction at Work
Although technology at work provides new and efficient ways to communicate at work, it can also lead employees to be more distracted. A study done by O’Bannon surveyed employees and showed that the major distractions in the workplace felt by employees were from chatty coworkers (80%), office noise (70%), and social media (56%) (2018). Users focus much of their attention on social media or cellphones causing them to be less attentive of their surroundings and work (O’Bannon, 2018). To present best work requires employees to be focused on the task at hand and technology gives them the opportunity to be more laid back and lose focus.
Purchasing technology for a company is costly. Technology needs to be maintained and updated which can be a huge investment for a company (McNab and Angelis, 2014). Employees will require training for technology in the workplace. The process of switching to new technology can be time consuming as employees learn at different rates (McNab and Angelis, 2014). It will take time to adjust to a new system which can affect work productivity. Technology can also be faulty, and it may cost more to repair or replace old technology.
Crime and Abuse
Technology in the workplace has brought efficiency and productivity, but means companies are more susceptible to computer abuse (The Harvard Law Review Association, 1991). As storage of information is shared between computers, the introduction of a virus or hack can lead to multiple computers being affected. This can cause loss of information which can cost the company much money in damage and repair. Privacy of employees is also at risk because personal information may be stored on computers leading to theft of personal information (The Harvard Law Review Association, 1991). Another practice in some workplaces is computer-based monitoring where managers check employees’ performance by tracking computer activity and duration of time spent (The Harvard Law Review Association, 1991). Based on the results, managers reprimand their employees or post the sensitive information on time spent on a computer in a public area in the office. This was seen by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) to be an abuse of employees’ autonomy, personal dignity, and health (The Harvard Law Review Association, 1991). Using such tactics to call out employees can cause stress and further affect employee’s productivity at work.
Balance of Using Technology to Improve a Workplace and Maintaining Technology
Technology is an asset in the workplace and should be implemented, but there should be ways to manage how employees use it. Technology should aid in making menial tasks easier so that employees can focus on more important work such as improving customer relations. It is important for employees to attend trainings to understand expectations of use of technology and using it safely. Technology should not only be seen as a tool to help get things done but also a resource to encourage learning and new ideas. There are many applications and online articles that can spark ideas for employees to suggest or work with and bring something new to help improve their company. Companies should be using technology to not only streamline processes but foster an innovative culture and encouraging employees to think outside the box, continually learn, and present their new findings and ideas that they wish to implement. Technology should be used to inspire employees and push them to grow outside of just their assigned roles so that they can bring the greatest contribution to their company.
Technology brings many advantages to a workplace. It helps foster good relationships by providing a more efficient method of communication. It also inspires employees to tackle everyday problems with the help of technology. Although there are concerns of technology bringing about crime, with careful use and training, this can be prevented. The cost is a well worth investment as technology has brought about many inventions and ideas and moves society forward.