TECH AND THE CWO

Organisations that want to be successful in using technology to improve the workplace must start with people in mind rather than jumping on the latest tech trends. Workplace technology can bring workers together and facilitate greater levels of collaboration and innovation.

Workplace technology fosters tremendous flexibility and future gazers have called time on the office in its current form. Interestingly, the importance of the office isn’t diminished by tech. Whilst tech provides collaborative tools, the successful office offers great design, somewhere that inspires people, a place for ingenuity and innovation. Like tech, the workplace can make or break collaboration, and the high performing organisations understand this.

But tech is increasingly being used in the workplace to enhance performance. By using tech that gathers quantifiable data – such as seat sensors to show how much time people are at their desk– companies can then better develop workplaces for users. The Review has seen the increasing use of tech to support marginal gains in improving the workplace. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the increasing availability of information it offers is giving the ability to customise work environments for employees, teams and business units and through analytics to intervene faster and smarter with results-driven interventions.

Lendlease is routinely using wearable devices with its wellbeing programmes. There’s good business sense to this. Promoting a culture that improves health and welfare of employees reduces absences, currently resulting in 27 million lost working days per year, costing the economy £13.4 billion. But there’s also no limit to the application of the data that is generated, and from a workplace perspective, information on sitting time, location and heart rate variability becomes easily accessible and quickly determines workplace effectiveness.

ADP Research Institute’s 2016 Evolution of Work study of more than 2,400 employees and employers across 13 countries found that 37% of UK staff are technology advocates. They believed it improved connections with co-workers and employers, made their working life easier, helped them operate more effectively with global staff and reduced travel costs.

The ADP study shows the importance of behavioural adaption. Leesman’s data also showed tech and its collective functionality is not in itself viewed as a differentiator between average or high-performing environments. However individual technology services are proving to be local stress points and can be huge barriers to employee engagement. Beware the consumerisation of what was previously enterprise tech, as many employees now have better devices and collaboration tools at home. Tech and workplace strategies need to be in step.

The strong message from the research for The Review is with careful leadership consideration, the tech-enabled workplace can become the most humane workplace.

Q:

Does your organisation use tech to enable employees, or to demand more from them?