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The fervent temperament of technology continues to be met with controversy. It can be used to find efficient and sustainable solutions to the economy, whilst saving lives in the medical world. Environmentally, it can offer protection through lab-grown plant consumables.

And it continually makes waves in the business sector too. So much so, that by 2030 it is believed that almost a third of the global workforce will be automated. Streamlined services will dominate in the completion of time-consuming tasks, whilst greater access to more efficient resources for businesses will enhance work productivity and deliver value.

Through utilising technology, businesses are able to transform their model both internally and externally. Yet, is the in-house effect imposing strain on employees?

Tech software disables real-time conversations


VR workspaces – Improovr

Improovr is a “VR teleconferencing software for CAD teams” favoured by engineers, architects and scientists, with its clientele impressively consisting of space cadets, NASA.

Undoubtedly, the software is revolutionary; it enables colleagues, business associates and even members of the health and safety committee to group together in a virtual workspace, to modify and assess 3D models in real time.

On the other hand, Improovr can also prohibit work forces from building meaningful relationships with relevant industry associates, face-to-face.

Communicating via instant messaging platforms is one thing, but being fully immersed in a virtual work environment is another. It’s pretty intense, especially for an employee who spends hour after hour consumed by, and consuming, digital activity.

For employees, being granted an opportunity to leave the desk and embrace fresh air as well as real people, can instil a sense of responsibility and liberation.

From engaging in the flesh, workers are given an opportunity to make human connections — as opposed to artificial ones. This can be hugely stimulating and motivational for an employee’s personal health and work performance.

Personal meetings can remove the focus off of technology for colleagues and replenish draining productivity levels. An employee’s performance is less likely to become discouraged by an animated gathering, as opposed to an impersonal, disengaging online conference.

Slack – a “cloud-based team collaboration software tool”
For those unfamiliar with Slack, it’s an instant-messaging platform favoured by industry professionals. The software prevents email backlog and is a more direct way for colleagues and business owners to collectively oversee and manage projects. Primarily, workforces adopt Slack — and akin social tools — to communicate unitedly within the one window.

It’s particularly handy for business operators who’re typically out of office; busy owners can tune into a newsfeed at any suitable time for updates or developments from employees.

And the platform is incredibly time-efficient. Bosses and colleagues needn’t waste time constructing and sending out long, formal emails to individual members of staff, or work through infinite replies. Responding via the likes of Slack is a much smoother way of communicating online, compared to existing digital alternatives.

Yet for employees, instant-messaging is so fast-paced that it can become overwhelming.  One business owner revealed their group chats consisted of “1,000 messages per day to eliminate the need of emails”. Such online engagement is being preferred by businesses, and is consequently replacing offline social interaction.

Typically the average person now spends their free time — outside of work — engaging in conversation logs and digital activity via their devices. It’s worrying if digital communication moves into the forefront of the office environment too, removing the need for workers to personally engage at all. Through lack of face-to-face social contact a person has nearly double the chances of developing depression.

Through persistent self-portrayal online, employees are liable to contract a sense of awkwardness when subject to ‘alien’ public environments. This can evolve into workers developing poor confrontation and public speaking skills — essential attributes — as well as social anxiety. Mental illness is becoming more and more apparent in businesses as of late, with “over half of all working days lost from poor mental health in Great Britain.”

Additionally, workers who construct and reply to chat threads on the reg, are consistently editing their written thought streams. This differs from a personal conversation, whereby employees aren’t able to correct their verbal mistakes, or mispronunciations.

This incites fear in public situations, and reinforces the problematic perfectionist nature of millennials — a current epidemic evident in young adults, that is known for causing unproductive behaviour, lack of self-worth and unhappiness.

Instantaneous online exchanges can include tones that are sometimes hard to decipher. Employees can become hung up on over-analysing words and misunderstanding meanings implicated through digital messaging.

As a result, employees can develop a complex, particularly if they’re the office newbie, and feel disliked amongst peers as they struggle to recognise whether a colleague is being friendly or not, via the net.

Regularly talking to one another in work environments, employees can banish insecurities and negative doubts, boosting their sense of belonging.

 

Jamboard – an interactive “whiteboard canvas”
Google’s cloud-based interactive whiteboard, enables employees and business owners to brainstorm via a digital canvas, where they can connect with up to 16 other associates at once.

If used in a conference meeting that serves as an accompanying tool, where a live discussion is the main focus, then the app endorses both social discussion as well as incorporating the visual, aesthetic perks that technology can deliver; a real winner.

However, if employed to merely brainstorm and instigate connections with users across the world, than the app can replace the need for a physical gathering, provoking issues for employees.

Idea sessions are generally group reinforcers that influence personal development, confidence, creative juices and a sense of team spirit. It can be more difficult to instigate a sense of this through purely online communication.

Similarly, it is also probable that employees would be more attentive, inspired and vocal in a physical group discussion as opposed to a session that is delivered from a tablet. This is because collective sessions inspire teamwork and innovation. Feel-good motivators that collaboratively create a positive environment, where “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”.

From contributing ideas to physically-present listeners during public discussions, employees can feel worthy and appreciated — mood-boosters that significantly heighten staff morale.

It’s common knowledge that mental health in the workplace is becoming a huge problem for workers and businesses. Many blame the effects of a demanding workload, one’s inability to switch off after work, or modern, overwhelming, societal pressures.

Yet it’s more than likely that technology’s all-consuming presence in workforces is playing a part. And it’s time for business owner’s to acknowledge its potentially troubling influence on employees.

Use the comments section below to discuss how technology positively or negatively impacts your office environment.

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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