80% of employees hoped that tech-enabled remote working capabilities would give them better work-life balance.
However the reality is far different, with almost half (42%) claiming that new smart working practices are negatively impacting their work-life balance.
The findings come from a recent survey of 2,000 professionals carried out by staffing business Walters People.
Companies are becoming increasingly digitally focussed
The business reason for digitally transforming a workplace makes sense, with three quarters (72%) of employers believing tech helps to improve workflow and overall staff productivity.
Other reasons companies state the need for a more tech-centric workplace include to strengthen collaboration between staff and improve communications (58%), remain competitive in an increasing digitally-focussed global environment (54%), help track results and streamline decision-making (22%), and attract and retain talent (17%).
Lucy Bisset, Director of Walters People Manchester comments: “Advances in technology have already changed the way companies and employees work. With teams more dispersed and covering more time zones, working with others via phone, virtual meetings and video has become a norm.
“Adopting a digital workplace has also helped companies streamline operations and enhance speed of communication, as well as accessing the information in a much more effective way.”
Buy-in from employees
85% of employees agree their productivity would be enhanced by technology, with a further 80% claiming working for a tech-savvy company would boost their morale, and 78% agreeing that tech would help enhance coordination between departments.
However, whilst the aim of digital transformation is to create a ‘smarter working’ environment it brings with it some challenges. The biggest fear from employees is the expectation to “always be on.” In fact, almost half (42%) believe tech negatively impacts their work-life balance and doesn’t allow them an opportunity to switch-off.
Further concerns include the struggle to learn and apply new technologies (31%) and the fear of technologies replacing jobs (22%).
Lucy Bisset adds: “Digital transformation of the workplace should be a top-down initiative; executive support and adoption is crucial – especially when trying to prove the commercial and rational benefits for both the organisation and the individual.
“All too often in companies we see senior leaders stick to their traditional working methods whilst expecting employees to accommodate this; as well as new, innovative processes introduced by the IT department.
“The solution is simple; if there is a new intranet or instant messaging platform introduced then the senior business executives should communicate via these means regularly. If the business has moved towards a cloud-based sharing system – then managers need to ensure that they are the primary users which will naturally drive employees to adopt these practices.”
Older workers playing catch-up
Whilst half (44%) of Millennials state that employers should adopt the latest technologies, this is significantly lower for Generation X (25%) and Baby Boomers (11%).
In fact, an overwhelming 60% of Generation X and Baby Boomers admitted to fearing the introduction of new technologies, with a third (35%) stating that they are yet to get a full grasp of current technologies used in the workplace.
What is worrying is that Millennials widely perceive technology to be at the root of workplace conflicts.
A third of Millennials (34%) reported that older workers not understanding new technology was the chief cause of conflicts in the workplace, followed by younger workers becoming frustrated at using outdated technology (33%).
Millennial professionals are also distinct from their older colleagues in their attitudes towards social media. Almost 40% of Millennials felt that employers should actively encourage workers to incorporate social media into their work, compared to less than a quarter (24%) of Generation X and just 10% of Baby Boomers.
Lucy Bisset shares her top tips to improve the rate of adoption for nee technology:
- Choose technology wisely: When you’re shopping around for a new technology — be it a customer relationship management (CRM) program or software to better manage employee timesheets — bear your team’s interests in mind. Functionality is critical, but so is user-friendliness. Technologies that require multi-day training programs and hefty user manuals are a sure-fire recipe for stalled adoption.
- Communicate it properly as soon as possible: In the early stages, start by encouraging employees to submit their opinions about the technology you want to introduce. This will help the idea gain acceptance by the people who will use it the most. You will also need to ensure that each employee who will be affected, understands how the changes will help them in the long run. Involve each of them in every stage of decision making and let them know the importance of it to business growth. Acceptance of new technology in the workplace is a crucial stage for effective performance and accurate feedback.
- Highlight the Benefits: Technology can do so much to make our lives easier, but the process of learning new technology can still be daunting. To ensure team members are bought in, help them understand the decision to implement new technology. Identify the limitations or problems in the current processes. Help them see how technology could solve those problems and make their job run smoother. Although fear is normal in the face of change, we can’t let fear stop us from making a good decision. Ultimately, technology will make their job easier and allow them to be more productive, but employees may need help to see past any perceived short-term pain to the long-term vision.
- Give your employees time to get used to the idea: Before you implement any new process or software, give your employees a few months to understand what you are changing and why. Talk about the benefits to your employees (rather than just the business itself) and let them know they are welcome to ask as many questions as they like to ensure they have all the information. Be transparent and open, don’t leave things out because trust is what is going to be most valuable between you and your employees.
- Slowly introduce new concepts: If you can introduce your employees to your new software in phases, it’s less likely to be overwhelming for them. Depending on the system and size of your company, it can sometimes take a year or more to get all of your employees to use a new piece of tech, so be prepared to factor that into your timeframes.
- Have champions: There are always people who readily accept new technology. These are your champions and influencers. They can help convince reluctant co-workers where no one else can. The champions act as the early adopters of the technology and can aid in the training and the support of other team members. The more individuals that fall within this category of genuine champion, the easier the transition will be to company or department-wide acceptance.
- Customise training: Familiarity with and interest in digital technology varies widely among employees and so your training efforts should reflect those differences. Some employees might prefer an online training session; others might need a bit more handholding and support in the form of a personal coach.
- Listen to feedback: Develop a system of collaborative communication targeting the employees’ perceptions, concerns, and experiences with the new technology. The environment must feel safe for employees to voice their opinions truthfully, so it may be worthwhile to set up an anonymous survey that users can complete, or appoint a group representative that employees trust to communicate the general sentiment about the new technology.
- Highlight quick wins: Once employees begin to use the technology more and more, draw attention to the positive impact it’s having on your organization. Publicising quick wins helps build a case for change.
- Talk about it during the on-boarding process: New employees can be a great starting point if your older employees are reluctant to budge because they are already in a position to adopt new processes. Start new employees off on the new system and encourage them to use the new technology on a regular basis to phase out the older process.
- Give It Enough Time: Implementing and adopting new technology won’t be easy for your team. One of the reasons for the failure of most adoption is the assumption that technology will be easily integrated into company culture and start to give positive results immediately. You should rethink this and set long-term expectations. To start with, you should be prepared for errors and misunderstandings. Research about the average performance of the introduced technology and the expectation based on the resources you have. Allow employees to embrace it slowly and ensure you set targets and realistic expectations
- Evaluate the Performance: When introducing new technology to your organisation, it is crucial to measure the performance, results, the return on investment (ROI), the impact on the users and so on. The measures can then be deployed to identify the minor and major problem areas and how to make it work more efficiently for your business procedures. Set the tracks so as to be able to compare the performance before and after the introduction. Be open to the feedback and criticisms from your employees and ensure the suitable environment for their candid feedback.