Technology is undoubtedly a key part of modern life. Over time we’ve become accustomed to apps and different devices that help to do everything from reminding us of doctors appointments to helping us to find places to eat. But, is our addiction to technology completely healthy?
Aside from all its brilliance, technology can be time-consuming and very distracting. Very few of us can stop ourselves from immediately picking up, or opening up, our devices in order to find out what’s going on.
Whether it’s an email from a friend, confirmation of a sale that you’ve spent months pitching or a just a note to say that your mum has liked your holiday photo on Facebook, there’s always something new to grab your attention.
Does that really matter? Interruptions can seem relatively small – just one quick glance at your phone won’t hurt right? – but add up every notification, social media browse and personal email across the course of the weeks and you’ll soon see that a lot of time is wasted from such distractions.
Social media is so ubiquitous that it is now a common part of many workers’ daily routines – with many people charged with checking customer interactions and promoting their work on social platforms.
While you’re on for work, it’s difficult not to get lost in the latest news, for example, or in the messages you’ve received from family and friends.
Completely banning the use of social media in the office is not the best of strategies (and near-impossible when people can check their phones) but it is possible to cut notifications and limiting use for people whose job doesn’t require their social media accounts to be open.
The simple fact is that social media can make your business more productive – proving an effective way to collect and act upon customer feedback and a cost effective marketing tool – but it can easily distract employees if misused.
Modern workplaces are fuelled by email. It’s easy to see why that has happened too. It’s a quick, cheap and convenient way to share important information and documents.
But there is a down side. Having your email inbox open at all times, for example, can easily distract you from one task and cause you to flit between tasks in an inefficient manner. Sometimes, too, emails are used when a verbal conversation would actually be quicker and more effective or a discussion becomes less coherent than it would if conducted around a table in a meeting room.
As with other technology around the office, there’s a balance to strike. Email can boost productivity – but not if it becomes a distraction and is use ‘for the sake of it’.
Poor IT systems
Email and social media can prove a distraction – and therefore reduce productivity – but it’s not just distractions that businesses need to guard against.
Poor IT systems can also prove a big drag on your time and energy. Slow loading software, patchy internet connections and old hardware can all add to the time it takes you to get work done – the opposite effect of that which is intended. The wrong IT system can also add to your workload. How much time is waiting filling in spreadsheets or forms to update your progress on tasks?
You need to use the right IT and use it well for it to help rather than hinder your business. That means picking the right software – packages that can speed up your processes, aid people management and assist with your important paperwork, for example – and invest in a level of support and training that ensures this works to maximum effect.
Only by establishing the right balance to avoid distractions and identifying and using the right IT systems you can ensure that technology is a help rather than a hindrance.