Technology can be both a blessing and a curse. It is instrumental in how we live, work, and play that it’s integrated into who we are and how we function. In an innocent effort to address business and organizational needs with the amazing technology available, the solutions can evolve into a powerful technology tornado if not managed properly.
This technology tornado has been building slowly for the last 20 years, but it really gained power during the pandemic. In 2020, we turned to the internet to continue working because the outside world was on pause. Bills kept coming, which meant we had to figure out how to keep working without leaving our homes. We needed to preserve our life and lifestyle, but we had to learn to do it inside, and electronically, so we became increasingly dependent on technology.
But why is it a tornado?
Think about all the technology utilized in the workplace on a daily basis, teams/google chat/slack, email, texting, CRM, Project Management tools, shared drives and cloud storage, the list goes on and on. Each of these technology tools have their own communication platform…this is where the tornado gets its power… when your tech stack converges with your communication tools.
Most tech solutions come with their own form of communication channel. And without a playbook of best practices outlining the specific purpose for each tool, and how to communicate in and across the tech tools, good intentions can lead to system weariness, digital inefficiencies, a toolbox filled with too many tools, and the most detrimental of all information overload.
Why is this important and how does it apply to my business?
Digital fatigue is a feeling of being tired and burned out from screen time. Use of excessive amounts of technology and constantly having to shift our brain, eyes, and thinking to different platforms because the information is coming from all angles, leads to digital fatigue. According to Psychology Today people spend about 21.5 hours per week in video conferencing and about 5-6 hours per day on a smartphone. That’s a lot of digital time.
If employees are digitally fatigued, they will not be able to perform well and they will not be engaged in the work they are doing. That’s why it’s important for business leaders to be aware of the digital noise in the workplace and the impact it’s having on the individual team members.
Here are some steps to take to start avoiding the tech tornado in the workplace and digital fatigue:
1. Do a tech audit. Take inventory of all the technology being utilized in the workplace and what they are used for. Are they being utilized to their fullest potential? Is there any overlap with other platforms in which one could be eliminated? Are they creating efficiency or redundancy?
2. Learn about the latest trends in the industry that the business is in. Are there any new streamlined options available or more innovative options available?
3. Understand the impact of the company tech stack on employees. Are they fatigued? Do they even utilize all the tools available? Do they understand why the particular tools are in place and what they are for? Do they have insight or recommendations for other tools and/or better workflows?
4. Be vulnerable in the process of understanding technology. Reach out to the vendors and ask questions, get training on the tools used and ensure that there is a full scope of understanding of what that impact is to the business. It’s ok to not know it all, that’s why the vendors are available to help. Asking questions like, “Is there anything I should know that I didn’t ask?” That will likely open an opportunity to talk about something that you haven’t already covered and teach you something new.
5. Understand the importance of the system to the company and to the team. What problem is it solving? Is it actually a problem that needs to be addressed? Is there another approach available to meet the same need?
6. Address the work environment. Is it hybrid? Fully remote? In the office? This is important to know exactly what your team needs.
7. Create boundaries around the technology and how it is used. Boundaries look like this: Slack is used for day-to-day communication with the team, email for projects and items that require more long-term deadlines, do not text to personal phones for work related items. This helps employees to understand boundaries, it leaves the guesswork out, and it shows care about their digital wellbeing.
Technology is a big part of how we work in 2023, let’s make sure it is managed and utilized intentionally to protect ourselves and our teams from digital weariness.