What workers want to see more (and less of) from this year and beyond.
Technology continues to revolutionize work at breakneck speed. As more and more business processes go digital, coupled with the workforce moving away from traditional workspaces, the nature of work is unlikely to ever return to the old way of doing business. things.
Gartner reiterated this in their July 2021 report, The Future of Work Reinvented: Sixteen This Unique Opportunity where they stated “…the pandemic has demonstrated that many of our working assumptions are archaic, unnecessarily limiting, and now demanding to be reinvented”. They note that some business leaders are reluctant to change their work model for fear it will compromise business results, but that going back to the old way of working is riskier than reinventing it.
So what do workers think of this shift to an increasingly connected working model?
I caught up with Joe Boyle, CEO of TRUCE Software, to find out. The company recently conducted its second annual Connected Workforce Survey to get employee feedback on what they like about workplace technology, what turns them off, and what they would say to employees. employers on how best to use it as an asset during the global talent shortage.
Gary Drenik: What is the overall opinion of the workforce on the state of connectivity? Are employees embracing technology at work or do they feel tech overloaded?
Joe Boyle: We have heard a bit of both. Respondents generally see technology in the workplace in a positive light. Half noted that they thought it would help them outnumber this year. More than a third think it will make them more flexible.
But we’ve also heard that employees want more established boundaries between their work and personal lives. Concerns about lack of work-life balance have been raised repeatedly, which is not particularly surprising given the proliferation of technology and mobile computing. What is new here is the role that employers must play in helping to solve the problem. It’s something we asked respondents to think about: where’s the responsibility when it comes to managing the blurring lines between work and personal life that technology often causes?
Drenik: And what did you discover?
Boyle: Respondents were divided. About 46% think it’s someone else’s responsibility (ie their employer, the government, or a mix of both), while 43% think it’s their own responsibility. We also found an interesting generational difference in views on this issue. People over 45 think it’s a personal responsibility, and younger people see it more as a responsibility of their employer.
I think this is because the older part of the workforce that started their careers before everything was so connected made a conscious decision whether or not to bring work home. But now work is bleeding into our home lives simply by the nature of everything being digital. Older workers are used to protecting their personal time and imposing limits. This is not the case for young people who only know work in the age of Slack, Zoom and 24-hour accessibility.
Drenik: What has your research told you about what employees want most and least when it comes to work-related technology?
Boyle: The technology options available to workers and the tools in place to manage that technology contribute to employee perceptions and satisfaction with their workplace. Workers believe that technology impacts their ability to be productive and plays a role in protecting their privacy. It’s worth noting that privacy concerns were mentioned minimally by respondents to our survey, while the desire to balance work and personal life and be offered the latest technology was more prominent.
A recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey also indicated the value workers place on flexibility when it comes to their workplace, which depends on the technology available to them so they can be fully functional, regardless of their location. Prosper’s survey found that 60% of millennials would prefer to work for a company that allows them to work from home. As for why they think the location option is important, about half of millennial respondents in the same survey noted that the option to work from home gave them a better work/life balance. They also cited safety and not having to travel as key benefits.
Drenik: How has mobility evolved to help improve distributed workforce productivity?
Boyle: I thought about the evolution of mobility through the prism of mobility versus portability. When knowledge workers first broke away from the desktop, they did so with laptops. Employees were able to perform the same functions and access the same tools remotely as on a desktop computer. The work has therefore become transportable from one place to another. Yet for the most part, how they used these devices remained static, only the location changed. Workers weren’t using the laptop, for example, to try to send emails from the car or check a work order from the cab of a bulldozer. IT focused on provisioning laptops to ensure that access to the corporate network, and therefore corporate data, was secure regardless of remote location.
With the introduction of the smartphone, everything that could be done on the laptop, and more, could now be done on a device that fit in the palm of your hand. Workers were no longer tied to one place, even if it was far from the office. They could take and use, this device anywhere and has the same functionality as on a work computer or laptop. It wasn’t just that he could be transported; the device could be advanced use on the go.
Today, IT continues to approach managing these mobile devices the same way it did with laptops. They focus on protecting the company’s network and data. As portability has evolved into true mobility, how a device is used and what happens around the user is just as important to corporate network and data security, but even more so to safety. and employee safety. Management tools have never had to take into account the human side of mobility. And that’s where we need to focus now: understanding how to manage how workers actually use their technology, in addition to procurement and security.
Drenik: What do you think of how companies can use technology as a tool to attract and retain talent, especially given the labor shortage?
Boyle: Giving the workforce the best technology has to offer is important to the overall employee experience. Making devices usable at the right times with only the apps and functions needed by partitioning the device based on context (think: workgroup, time of day, or proximity to heavy equipment) is one way to create a configuration mobile friendly for workers. This minimizes the need to scan mobile policies and preserves user privacy by not tracking apps or tools used. It only considers the environment around the device when adjusting user permissions.
Technology has the power to provide choice, increase productivity, improve safety and help establish work/life balance. These are all ways to use it to the advantage of employers when it comes to hiring.
Drenik: Fascinating, Joe, to hear the workers’ perspective on the subject of technology in the workplace. It seems that companies are largely in favor of adopting technology to digitize processes, add flexibility to workers and increase productivity. But if these technologies aren’t implemented with the employee in mind, especially in a time when workers have such strong bargaining power, I imagine they can be used against them. These are all important considerations for companies to keep in mind as we continue to face a talent shortage.
We thank you for your time and your thoughts.