To Bridge the Workplace Technology Gap, New Tools Need to “Just Work”

By Mark Grilli

kaboompics / Pixabay

In our personal lives, many of us are ready and willing to adopt useful new technologies. We update friends and share photos on a wide range of apps and platforms, across a whole array of interconnected devices. So why do so many of us still fall back on emails and paper documents in the office?

One reason, of course, is that we’re required to. Workplace policies often not only fall short of enabling the adoption of new technology, but actively discourage it – sometimes due to concerns about the security of new apps and devices. But another, subtler reason is that we’re under pressure to succeed in our jobs, which doesn’t give us much time to learn new platforms or adopt innovative tools—no matter how effectively they might work.

To bridge this gap—the workplace technology gap between the apps and platforms we use in our free time and the tools we use at work—we need to advocate for the measurable benefits of modern technologies. But, at the same time, any new tools we introduce need to “just work” in the workplace, as we expect them to in our personal lives.

Here’s how these factors are interweaving right now.

“If it just works, don’t fix it”

I once asked my friend whether his kids still use email, or if they communicate strictly on other social media. His 19-year-old daughter told us, “Oh sure, I still use email. I use it to communicate with adults.” The gap here doesn’t yawn quite as wide as she makes it sound. After all, many of us “adults” also use Facebook messenger, FaceTime, and other newer platforms. Still, she’s absolutely right that in professional communication, most of us default to email.

In the same way, many millennial workers prefer to collaborate on documents in the cloud instead of attaching them to emails the old-fashioned way, but workplace policies often hold them back from using the tools they know are better for the job. And to some degree, this is indeed the fault of us “older people.” We talk the talk of a 100 percent digital workplace, but we weren’t raised in a 100 percent digital world the way our younger colleagues were. Unlike digital natives, our intuition tells us that paper and email are more reliable—but that intuition weighs us down.

Sometimes this reliance on outdated tools reaches into the realm of the truly ridiculous, like at a company I worked with that insisted on printing out thousands of PDF forms on paper, signing them, then scanning them back into the digital system. But it often plays out in subtler ways. For example, many of us still have to deal with huge email chains (including people who “CC all” by accident), even though a collaborative chat platform might help us accomplish the same task much more smoothly.

But as limiting as this reliance on old paradigms can be, it isn’t always unjustified. After all, paper and email “just work.” Nobody has to learn how to use them or wonder whether they Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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