Technology is a tool that can help or hinder our workforce. Its impact on workflows has been to streamline efficiencies in new ways and improve productivity. But the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests that global productivity is declining. So which is it? Is technology helping or hindering human productivity?
Technology is Disruptive—but is that Bad?
All of the technology at our fingertips today has changed every industry on the planet. Humans now have previously unimagined tools at their fingertips that help them do more, faster. But the WEF suggests that all this technology comes with a learning curve. It requires humans to learn new ways of behavior while they also learn new tools. So, while new software may ultimately speed up productivity, there is an initial decline as humans learn these tools and new ways of doing things. There are also new worries that come with the technology that requires more effort; cyber-attacks require more work to protect our systems from harm. Too, digital multitasking, or the jumping between multiple forms of media, actually have been shown to make us less productive.
Yet the benefits of technology are myriad; the latest innovations can change people’s lives for the better. In the workplace, technology has helped:
- Increase the speed and efficiency of our workforce. This is true in almost any industry, from manufacturing to communications to finance. Business is now faster and automation helps eliminate mundane, redundant tasks, allowing humans to focus on the things that matter. Today, what used to take hours can take minutes.
- Increase our ability to communicate. This has improved the efficiency of teams and individuals, allowing them to do more collaboratively. Team coordination has improved because of the digital technology tools we use every day. These advanced communication tools allow us to work from anywhere, but make coordinating remote teams faster, easier, and more efficient.
- Technology has enabled an entirely new workforce of freelancers. Forbes suggests more than 50% of the global workforce will be freelance by 2027. Technology has given rise to a variety of apps that let people work from their homes, coffee shops, or anywhere there is a Wi-Fi signal. These freelancers, as small business owners, can run their businesses efficiently with low-cost technology tools available at the touch of a button. These workers can take advantage of the gig economy, and use technology to build a business.
- Technology can even help us develop healthier habits. There are hundreds of apps that track everything from steps to calories, meal planning, and much more. Remote devices use digital technology to connect to the Internet. Tools like Fitbits and Apple Watches that remind us to stand up, move around, and stay healthy. Healthcare providers commonly use these tools to monitor the health of chronically ill patients after they leave the hospital.
Digital technology has benefits and drawbacks. Companies can take advantage of these tools to redesign their workforce for greater efficiency while allowing flexibility in where and when their employees contribute. Workforce automation can eliminate much of the boring busywork from an employee’s task list, allowing them to concentrate on skills only humans can offer. But technology can also have a downside, forcing new workflows on established business structures and disrupting established processes.
Blackstone is committed to having the right technology and the right employees in place to make your company more productive. Contact us today.