In the late 20th century when computers started becoming commonplace in offices and businesses, it was revolutionary. This new technology was suddenly able to save workers time and omitted human error. Soon we were introduced to the idea of email and the World Wide Web, allowing for easy access to information and virtually instantaneous communication to anywhere in the world. And then, in the 21st century, this technology became available in the palm of our hands via mobile devices – letting us work virtually anytime, anywhere. Yet, one of the biggest challenges facing today’s workforce is productivity. How is it possible that technology has not yet solved this problem?
There are a few factors at play here. First, most obviously, sometimes technology can be a hindrance. Spotty mobile connections, printer jams, frozen computers – these are all bits of technology we rely on to get our jobs done that often let us down. You can actually calculate how much money a company loses from poor use of time with this handy calculator.
Next, and less obviously, many companies are seeing a generational divide in how their employees use and respond to technology. On one hand, baby boomers often approach new technology through a negative lens. Confusion over conference room equipment and meeting setup can lead to frustration – and ultimately, a loss of productivity. At the other end of the spectrum are millennials, who are quick to adopt new technology. What’s wrong with being an early adopter? Well, frankly, technology can become a distraction for this group. For example, a millennial may see a notification from their Snapchat app and forget they were going to respond to an email; these small distractions quickly add up throughout the work week.
So how do we strike a balance between technology aiding a meeting and it becoming a distraction or frustration? There is no easy, quick-fix, but below are several considerations that can help.
Using tools that fit within your company
Everyone has personal preferences when it comes to the technology they use: Android vs. Apple, Dropbox vs. Google Drive, etc. Many times, a company will have a set protocol in place for which tools and technology employees should use. Start by understanding what your company does and does not allow when it comes to different technology – are you dealing with sensitive information and thus require technology that is highly secure? Or is collaboration and easy accessibility more important at your organization?
Where there is flexibility, make sure you take into consideration what is going to best help you get your job done well. Consult with your colleagues and people you regularly interact with outside of your organization to see if they have any preferences or needs when it comes to the tools used. For example, you may love the way Dropbox is setup for file sharing, but, your coworkers prefer to use Google Drive to easily collaborate on a document. Take into consideration not just what your personal preference is but what is going to work for everyone so you don’t run into any compatibility issues down the road.
Setting yourself up for success
Everyone understands the pain of a meeting that gets prolonged due to equipment issues. But even if you have the best technology in place, it won’t matter if you don’t know how to use it. Invest the time in understanding your office technology upfront to save time, frustration, and embarrassment at the end of the day (we all know the terrible feeling of trying to give a big presentation and not being able to get the screen to work). Share feedback with your IT team, and if there’s a training you think people could benefit from, try suggesting it.
Adjust your mindset
Encourage positivity when new technology is being introduced at your company. Focus on the end goal – better collaboration, and less time spent on menial tasks. Technology is here to help us if we embrace it, and the more quickly we do so, the more productive we’ll be.
Technology has come a long way since the desktop computer of the early-1980s. But we can still better harness the power of technology to make our workdays more efficient and productive. Looking down the road, we’re likely in-store for another workplace revolution as artificial intelligence becomes more common. Imagine walking into a meeting and the room not only knowing who it should video conference in based on the time of day, but that it should increase the lighting in the room because it’s raining outside. This is where we’re headed with conference room technology – but for it to translate into more productive meetings and workers, people need to be ready to embrace it.