As consumers, we’re always chasing the latest tech trends, gadgets and innovations. From new tablets and hardware to social media and the latest apps, many of us jump at the chance to adopt the latest technology. Half of worldwide tech growth can be attributed to the demand for emerging innovation, whether that’s IoT-powered gadgets, digital assistants, or new immersive technologies, such as AR and VR. 

About the author

Mike Smith is the Managing Director (Direct) at Virgin Media Business.

So why is it that when it comes to the tech we use in our working lives, it’s a very different kettle of fish?

The emotional disconnect

Compared with smartphones, tablets, and gaming devices they use at home, employees typically don’t share the same enthusiasm for the tech they rely on for their work, day in, day out. This applies as much to the gadgets they depend on while working remotely as to the devices they use in the office.

But research also shows that staff are reluctant to embrace new innovations at work, and managers are noticing. A study by MIT and Capgemini found more than six in ten managers surveyed feel the pace of technological change at work is too slow, primarily due to a “lack of urgency” and an inability to communicate the strategic benefits of new tools. This is a problem for organisations trying stay ahead of the curve and achieve the benefits of digitization.

If employees aren’t comfortable with the technology they’re given, or aren’t aware of the value it brings, they’re likely to reject it.

Change, no matter how small or large, can lead to dissatisfaction, potentially damaging staff morale. A feeling of reluctance can be a major obstacle to achieving digitization goals. And, in the worst-case scenario, employees shunning plans for digitization could seriously stall business growth.

How can businesses overcome the emotional disconnect between personal and office technology? The answers lie empowering staff to take ownership of their technology, helping them to use it fluently, having more open communication and ensuring the foundations that support new innovation are strong and scalable.

Empowering staff decision making and ownership

With many employees feeling disconnected from the technology they use at work, some companies are already taking steps to address this by devolving decisions about the technology they need to individual staff members.. This is particularly important when staff are working remotely and may not have access to the same tools they would do normally.

Facebook and Shopify have given 5,000 of their global staff members the equivalent of $1,000 to help them set up home offices, with staff able to use the budget to buy technology that will make the biggest difference to them as an individual. This includes budget to purchase new laptops and hardware devices to adapt to the ‘new normal’. This is giving employees a degree of tech freedom, keeping them personally engaged with the devices they choose to buy and then use when working – much like with their own personal technology.

Businesses can take this a step further by facilitating BYOD (bring your own device) policies. Rather than providing staff with costly company issue mobile phones and data packages, businesses can empower staff to use their own devices. One study shows that allowing employees to bring their own portable devices to work can save an average of 58 minutes per day, while increasing productivity by 34%, as well as potentially delivering cost savings for the business.

Capitalizing on the BYOD trend can give staff greater freedom in their technology choices. Rather than battling to get them enthusiastic about office equipment, it allows them to make use of devices they are fluent and comfortable using – boosting wider business productivity.

This won’t work for every device, business and employee, which is why it’s also vital that businesses also invest properly in staff training so they can fluently use their devices and the technology they need to do their job. As well as needing the right tools to do their job – staff also need to feel confident using them.

By creating a training-positive culture and ensuring employees feel equipped to use new innovations, the true power of workplace technology can be unlocked. It will help to enrich working lives, streamline tasks and boost overall collaboration – ultimately increasing productivity and enhancing the end product or service.

Communication and the path to progress

At home, you probably wouldn’t purchase a new communal tablet or computer without input from your family or the other people using it. The same principle should apply in the workplace.

Conversations need to be had on what staff want and need; how current systems are performing; and how they can be improved. This not only helps organisations to plan ahead, but also makes it easier for employees to get on board and feel connected to new upgrades and additions when they are delivered.

87 per cent of workers think leaders should reconsider the way they think about technology. This means ensuring employees are included when it comes to decision-making. Another study illustrates that more collaborative decision-making boosts employee satisfaction, helping to identify wants and needs and ensuring they’re addressed.

For employers to make positive changes and adopt the right technology, they must consult those who use it most. If management is transparent with staff surrounding their digitization plans, then employees will be more likely to buy into their office technology and use it in the most beneficial way possible.

If employees have a say in decisions surrounding the day-to-day systems they use, it will prevent leaders from forcing potentially unwanted tech on staff. This also contributes towards a more fluent understanding of the relationship with IT departments – helping technology meet the requirements of employees and giving them unparalleled support when needed. It ultimately fosters more of a positive connection between employees and their technology.

A change in mindset

Business leaders can’t simply purchase the newest, flashiest technology and think the job is done. Employees need to feel bought into the tech they use to make digitization a success.

Innovation can have a positive impact, but only if employees are empowered to use new digital tools. That means having meaningful dialogue about how technology can support staff, empowering employees to take ownership of this, providing proper training and investing in the right foundations.

Digital change doesn’t have to be difficult. So long as a business has the appropriate resilient and flexible foundational networks in place, and is willing to work collaboratively with staff to roll out technological improvements, new technology can deliver meaningful change.