Work is getting more complex and a growing number of industries are feeling the strain– from legal and compliance to healthcare and financial services. The introduction of hybrid workers, distributed work environments, asynchronous schedules and economic turbulence against the backdrop of the rapid evolution of workplace norms has many CEOs turning to a familiar cure-all: technology.
But does technology really hold the answer to all of these problems?
The short answer is no – at least not in its current form.
For years, businesses have looked to technology to solve a myriad of challenges. But the promise of greater cost, time and resource efficiency hasn’t come to fruition. Instead, today, many businesses are saddled with a patchwork of solutions that’ve made work more complex for leadership and employees alike.
Indeed, 75% of workers believe their jobs are becoming increasingly complex. More than 40% feel that digital transformation initiatives – the ones designed to streamline work – have actually made their jobs more complicated. And 91% of workers report feeling frustrated with their workplace technology.
Here are the five pillars technologists should strive for and businesses should look for when it comes to modern workplace technology:
1. Radical transparency between managers and employees
Hybrid work has made it harder for managers to gain visibility into their employees’ work experiences with a mere 12% of leaders saying they feel confident that their employees are being productive. No longer sharing the same office, managers lack key insights, like how long tasks are taking, what tasks are consuming the bulk of the day, where innovation and collaboration is happening and where it isn’t.
This affects employees, as well, 87% of whom value employer transparency. Today employees are being managed and assigned work based on a limited understanding of their workflow and workload.
Modern technology needs to open up sightlines across the business. Managers need to be able to see where bottlenecks are happening in order to address them in the same way they need to see where employees are creating efficiencies that can be replicated and rewarded.
2. Metrics that actually mean something
Technology is supposed to surface information that moves businesses forward. But 90% of workers report experiencing “information overload.” Today’s technology solutions deliver a surplus of metrics, but oftentimes they’re the wrong ones or businesses have to comb through countless data points to find the information they need.
Business owners and managers need metrics that can be customized to the indicators they need to make informed business investment and resource decisions. Those metrics should also be dynamic and trackable, so businesses can address problems the moment they emerge.
3. Workflow management developed for modern workflow
With the layering of different technologies, functions, schedules and work environments, workflows have reached levels of complexity never before seen in the history of work. Only 40% of businesses are confident that their employees are able to effectively collaborate, interact and work into today’s digital work environment.
This has complicated processes across the business spectrum – from the simplest tasks like communicating with a coworker to the most difficult like organizing supply chains. As technologists and businesses consider the features that modern technology should solve for, enhanced and effective workflow management should be at the top of the list.
4. Frictionless operability that mirrors consumer experiences
Whether it’s tapping a phone to make a purchase, order a same-day delivery from Amazon or using a fingerprint to autofill a password online, consumer technology has delivered monumental gains in operability and convenience in recent years.
At the same time, business technology solutions have gone in the opposite direction – disrupting the natural flow of communication, complicating workflows and contributing to more time spent navigating technology rather than working.
Modern business technology should start from a place of deeper understanding of how business processes work and then leverage testing, integration, iteration and design to deliver a frictionless technology experience.
5. Better designed employee experiences
Technologists and businesses should approach their tech stack as a talent differentiator as organizations’ technology offering and experience have become inextricable from the overall employee experience.
Just like businesses, studies show that employees view technology as an asset. 34% of employees are motivated to engage with technology out of curiosity and the opportunity to improve collaboration and teamwork, while 37% are interested in technology that helps them advance their careers and earn recognition or promotions.
Workplace technology that considers the value it’s offering to employees and embraces a more thoughtful approach to providing a “designed” employee experience is more likely to attract top talent.
The bottom line
To keep up with the pace of innovation across industries and stay relevant in an increasingly competitive economic landscape, businesses need technology that’s designed for the future of work and delivers on its promises.
Jeanne Hardy, Founder & CEO of Creative Business Inc., a business services and financial advisory firm that supports the needs of entrepreneurs and small business leaders in creative industries.