Are emails, virtual meetings, telecommuting, and online training helping or hurting your workforce? Do employees prefer these technological alternatives to face-to-face communication? The answer is that it depends! While that isn’t a very satisfying answer, the truth is that there are both pros and cons to technology. Depending on how technology is used and perceived, it can either help employees complete their work or cause additional stress and hassles.
Here are 3 pros to technology at work:
1. Instant, easy communication. With emails and instant messaging, technology allows for easy, instant communication with colleagues or employees anywhere in the world. This can save time and open opportunities for collaboration with others that are not in physical proximity to you.
2. Collaboration tools. Tools such as google docs, google calendar, and dropbox can improve collaboration and teamwork among employees. Multiple people can work on the same document and see changes, annotations, and feedback in real-time. This can also make sharing documents or scheduling meetings seamless.
3. Increased flexibility. Improved ability to work at convenient times in convenient locations can greatly benefit work-life balance. This can allow employees to attend to life situations such as doctor appointments, having to stay home to care for a sick child, or even business trips without having to lose an entire day of work.
Here are 3 cons to technology at work:
1. Increased expectations of availability. Being able to bring your work home on a laptop or having your work email on your cell phone might create the illusion that employees should stay connected and be available to work at all times. Although some employees enjoy the flexibility, this could lead to stress or burnout for others. For example, introverted employees may be more likely to perceive being contacted for work while at home as an invasion of their privacy. This can get in the way of much needed recovery time.
2. Continuous learning. Constant upgrades and innovations to technology requires continuous learning and change. This might require more work to keep up with the changes and can be a stressful experience for employees who are less “techy.”
3. Miscommunication. Interpreting electronic messages can sometimes cause miscommunication. It can be difficult to decipher the tone or true meaning of a message without facial expressions or listening to the tone of voice.
As you can see, technology in the workplace is not inherently bad or good. It is simply a tool that can come with great benefits or unintended consequences. In fact, the research has even referred to technology in the workplace as an "iParadox" because of this. Yet in 2020, technology is undeniably a large part of our daily lives at work and it isn’t going anywhere.
Whether you’re deciding on integrating new technology into your workplace or reflecting on your current technology use, keep in mind these pros and cons. In our next blog post, we will write about five tips to best use technology at work so you can make the most out of this tool while minimizing the unintended consequences.