A “one size fits all” approach to workplace technology is in most instances going to be less successful: trying to squeeze an organisation into a system, rather than carefully designing a good fit, is more likely to build in long-term problems.
While the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK has been falling, concerns remain about a second wave. More locally targeted lockdowns are a probability rather than a possibility. Business resilience has been collectively tested like never before and companies must be ready in the event of suddenly needing employees to work remotely again.
A more positive note though comes from the fact that many businesses found remote working to be a considerably better experience than they would have predicted beforehand; for some, pre-pandemic concerns about it being too difficult to achieve were dispelled within a few weeks. As a result, it’s become a way of working that more businesses are actively considering.
Obviously it always makes good business sense for companies to review what they can do to operate as flexibly and efficiently as possible. But in these challenging times, it’s more important than ever. And technology has the potential to help.
Employee perceptions present some challenges
However, as this recent CIPD research ‘Workforce technology: the employee experience’ identifies, there remain obstacles that need overcoming. The report highlights a lack of belief from employees that increased levels of technology improve business performance. There are concerns from some that it could make their life more complicated. Only around a third think their job quality will improve.
The report does point out that the impact of workplace technology varies in terms of the benefits it’s perceived to have depending on the workplace and sector. But it’s evident that many employees are still struggling to connect the use of technology with an overall sense of business improvement.
Yet the benefits are there for the taking
Other research from the CIPD last year, however, suggests employers have a different view. The report refers to improvements in organisational productivity, increased revenue, improvements in the quality of services and/or goods and reduced costs as some of the benefits already experienced as a result of the introduction of technology.
It’s difficult to argue too hard against the positive impact technology’s had over the past few months. Online education; collaborative software; video conferencing meetings; healthcare apps…technology has really made its presence felt and supported efforts to cope as the pandemic took hold. And many took to technology far quicker than they themselves might have predicted.
Certainly, when it comes to HR and payroll, the benefits of technology are clear to see. Relying on a mixture of systems and methods of reporting has always had the potential to be chaotic. At times of significant upheaval, being able to suddenly switch into a remote mode of operation and have all the essential information accessible is a lifeline. Snapshots like this CIPP poll help illustrate the productivity positives created by being able to work remotely during the pandemic.
Don’t just think about what technology is being introduced: think about how it’s introduced too
The employee opinions highlighted in the CIPD’s Workplace Technology report could have a lot to do with the way the technology’s been introduced rather than the technology itself. The report found the higher the level of employee consultation about its introduction, the more likely it was that employees felt positive about it. When employees had been consulted about technology change, 70% of them were positive about its impact on their job quality. Where employees hadn’t been consulted, only 20% were optimistic.
This underlines the importance of ensuring technology is introduced in a carefully thought through way that incorporates employees’ perspectives and feedback and addresses any concerns they have. It’s also important that employees are supported in developing the skills to use it well. If technology’s viewed as something that’s being imposed, it’s not that surprising if it’s then met with resistance and negativity. Introduce it thoughtfully, and it’s far more likely employees will be receptive to how it can make their life better.
A “one size fits all” approach to technology is in most instances going to be less successful: trying to squeeze an organisation into a system, rather than carefully designing a good fit, is more likely to build in long-term problems. The same goes for employees. By being involved in a well thought out transition, one that takes into account their needs and preferences, employees will be far more likely to value the many benefits technology has to offer them and their organisation.
We understand how important it is to make sure every user feels positive about the experience of working with technology and are highly experienced in collaborating with employees when setting up HR and payroll systems. Please do contact us for a chat to find out more.