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Workplace Technology - from vision to reality
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Look out! Technology Change ahead...

Organisations are recognising the need to invest in tech to create the ultimate user and visitor experience. But why does new technology not always deliver benefit?

An article by Tracy Badau, Strategy and Visioning Consultant, Cordless Consultants

Work is changing - technology is advancing at a rapid rate and will only continue to do so. New technology has made distance irrelevant with cloud-based software combined with new devices and wireless allowing work to become more dispersed. Many organisations are recognising the need to respond to this change by investing in new technology to create the ultimate user and visitor experience, to allow them to respond to market needs quickly. New technology will lead to future cost reduction, increased productivity and the attraction and retention of young talent into the workplace, won’t it?

Why does new technology not always deliver benefit?

Businesses need to recognise that putting sophisticated new technology into a workplace and changing working styles will not automatically translate into benefit, and provide the impact it promises, without the people involved being fully supported through an integrated change programme. Successful implementation of any new technology requires a robust change strategy to develop necessary skills and drive user adoption. After all, the current technology available to business does not run itself!

It is part of human nature to see imposed change as a threat. The human brain is hardwired back to the hunter gatherer days when we had a bias for safety. The theory goes that as soon as we move people from their ‘safety zone’, using their current technology, they have to shift from their accustomed working mode and into unfamiliar territory. Our brains record such threat of change as an error message as if our safety has been threatened and we go into ‘fight or flight’ or ‘threat response’ mode. The first thing we do when we are in threat response is to seek safety. This means we are genetically inclined to hide and run instead of embracing change and moving towards a reward (or in this case, the benefits of the new technology). 

Dealing with technology in isolation is a dangerous game!

Issues can arise if technology is viewed in isolation to the physical and behavioural world without consideration given to how it will integrate into existing business processes. Often organisations will place more focus on the deployment of new technology and not on user adoption. Training typically occurs prior to transition and although there is a nominal amount of post transition support, it is essential that users have multiple support channels available to them on an ongoing basis otherwise frustration occurs and adoption starts to drop away.

Change Managers? Do they really help?

The management of technology change in the workplace is becoming a recognised specialism; changing the way that we use technology to work for the better. Technology Change Managers should look to control and manage the risk of sub-optimal technology adoption along the change curve to make the innovative use of new technology a lasting part of the workplace culture.

We have to remember that we are all individuals and will all react to change differently. Resistance to change from employees is one of the biggest barriers to adoption. Often the surface level issues expressed by employees during times of change are masking deeper concerns below the surface. People often feel anxious that they may not have the competence to learn the new technology or feel additional pressure to take time out of their already busy schedules to attend training.

Overcoming the barriers.

Any change needs to be led from the top. When employees see managers and executives using new technology, adoption will follow. It is essential that people leaders and managers take time out for training in order to have full understanding of the technology being implemented.  If employees know that they can approach their supervisor with questions, it assists with continued learning. People leaders need to be seen to be driving the change, to be role models and advocates and demonstrate to their teams how it can improve their current team processes. Making technology routine as soon as possible and encouraging casual and frequent use will normalise it.

The Technology Adoption Curve

Everett Rogers in his book ‘Diffusion of Innovations’, first published in 1962 popularised the Technology Adoption Curve and it still holds true today. Rogers proposed that four main elements influence the spread of a new idea or innovation: the innovation itself; communication channels; time; and, social system. This process relies heavily on human capital, meaning the innovation must be widely adopted and reach critical mass in order to self-sustain. 

It is essential during any planning stage to get influential employees on board early during a Proof of Concept or Pilot Stage, they can then network horizontally across the organisation, spread the word and champion the technology. Employees will often look to early adopters before taking the plunge themselves and peer group feedback is the most powerful messaging.

Five Generations in the Workforce

Today’s workforce is close to spanning five generations, with Generation Z coming into the workplace in the next few years. The younger generations are digital natives, they’ve grown up with and have been taught with technology that’s often far in advance of many corporate solutions. They also have expectations of the technology available to them when entering a workplace. With this in mind organisations have to recognise the different competency levels of its employees when training their workforce on any new technology. Blended learning solutions should be designed to ensure that all levels of competency are covered as well as preferred learning styles. 

All messaging needs to be clear and consistent and provide employees with a vision for the future so they have understanding of the benefits and full functionality of the new technology in order to feel inspired to move out of their comfort zone, go through a learning curve and move forward into accustomed working mode again with the new technology.

It’s the little things that count.

It is important to celebrate the wins. Adopting new technology, however intuitive, will naturally require some learning. Recognise that there may be a dip in productivity as people learn the new system. Highlight the wins both from an overall company perspective and individual wins. Publicising wins helps continue to build a case for the ‘why’ and encourages further adoption.

Changes in technology are a given. It’s how we handle change that makes the difference.

We are entering the age of super mobility where people have multiple devices that are always on, running heavy bandwidth applications and the workplace has to provide for this demand. This is the beginning of an evolution that will impact the way we work. Any robust change strategy will help organisations take their people through the change curve. We need to think about the impact of change on people, particularly when implementing new technology in the workplace. Your Change Manager should help ensure that your employees are fully supported through the change to ensure maximum adoption of the new tech and in turn, ROI.

The Cordless approach starts by working with an organisation on the Vision and Strategy piece in order to understand the ‘Art of the Possible’ and the technology that is out in the marketplace as well as future innovations coming in. We will work with key stakeholders to understand their requirements of the new technology and how that will integrate into current business processes and business applications. We shape the strategy budget and project brief as part of the construction programme. As we help you to manage the project through IT and AV design, procurement and delivery, we help put plans in place to make the change real. We help your business users understand WHY things are changing WHAT is changing, HOW things will change and WHEN the change will take place. Finally, we help you to transition to BAU, making sure that all IT and AV tools and standards are adopted into your workplace environment and business culture.

Speak to us today, say hello@cordless.co.uk

Date: Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:03:30 +0000 GMT

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