The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not in any way represent the editorial position of Euronews.
Technology shouldn’t make us feel worse. It should improve our lives, writes Arto Vervanen.
Most technology in the workplace is useless. Here are his three ways to make office technology work for you instead of against you.
As employees return to work and companies renovate their offices at an unprecedented scale, we have an unprecedented opportunity to rethink office technology.
Many CTOs are seizing this moment by injecting vast amounts of new technology into their offices.
In the next five years, approximately 75% of leaders will embrace not only AI but also the Internet of Things and connected devices. Additionally, he said 80% will incorporate big data analytics.
The aim is to adapt to new ways of working, increase efficiency and also improve employee satisfaction.
But more technology doesn’t necessarily mean better technology. In fact, most of the latest sophisticated workplace technologies create more problems in the office than they help solve.
This is ultimately due to a poor implementation strategy.
As Head of Digital, I lead the management and planning of smart, data-driven workplace spaces. It involves envisioning new office technology solutions and rethinking old and outdated operational methods.
The most common mistake large companies make is relying too much on technology that doesn’t help them.
What you need when integrating new office technology is something more considerate: an employee-first model.
It means prioritizing a company’s real assets – its employees, their well-being, and physical office space – and leveraging technology to support and enhance those elements, rather than the other way around.
How can you leverage technology to make your office more human?
Technology should not change our behavior. You need to optimize it.
For generations, companies have forced employees to work within the confines of a physical office.
Employees are placed in cubicles, then in open-plan offices, then at home, and then in mixed hybrid work environments. Through it all, employees have been required to adapt and change their behavior to these new environments.
That’s no longer needed. In fact, this is an approach you should actively avoid.
With a wealth of new behavioral data at our fingertips, for the first time in history, we can now build and design offices based entirely on employee needs.
Thanks to new analytical tools that collect anonymized data, facility managers can track work patterns and make data-driven decisions about office design.
Smarter space design allows employees to maximize efficiency and speed in where and how they work in the office.
By addressing fundamental issues in office design, managers can stop investing in wasteful new technology designed to optimize office space.
An “innovation” like a hot desk reservation system becomes obsolete when the flow of people throughout the office is already optimized. Employees don’t have to stress or fight over limited work space. There is always a free desk available for everyone.
Technology can enhance, but not replace, the physical office
Technology should not replace physical meeting spaces. It should strengthen them.
Remote work has led to an unprecedented level of adoption of office technology. Currently, over 80% of all meetings include at least one remote participant, and that number will increase further in the coming years.
Still, frustrations with virtual meetings are real. There is now a growing understanding that technology alone is not enough to effectively bring people together to get work done. Equally necessary is physical space for employees to gather.
The Allen Curve is a powerful demonstration of the importance of office space in fostering collaboration. Other research shows that live interactions are much more powerful than digital expressions for building connections between people.
It follows that technology should also be used to enhance, rather than replace, the physical spaces where people gather and work.
New technology makes this more possible than ever before. For example, in-person meetings can be significantly more immersive in all offices.
In a smart environment powered by IoT devices, various parameters such as lighting, temperature, and noise levels can be monitored and intuitively adjusted to create optimal working conditions.
These sensory-rich meeting environments facilitate the generation of new ideas and allow complex information to be communicated and received by meeting participants in ways that lead to deeper understanding and collaboration.
These adjustments make the office a more comfortable and inviting place for everyone, including employees with special needs.
Putting the human element at the core of all our work
Technology shouldn’t make us feel worse. It should improve our lives.
Workers around the world are under unprecedented stress. 44% say they feel “a lot” of stress at work. This is not only unsustainable for the employees, but also has a negative impact on the company’s production.
Much of the decline in employee mental health is due to new office technology. With rapid advances in employee monitoring technology, the demand to always be “on” creates a toxic loop in which employees are unable to find time to recharge.
What office technology needs to do now is support and prioritize employee mental health.
New technology can track employee health over time and alert you to burnout risks before they take hold.
These systems run on both anonymized and self-reported data. So, wellness technology can help employees learn more about their bodies and understand their stressors, allowing everyone in the office to implement changes in the way they work.
Tracking such sensitive data requires trust and empathy. That’s why wellness technology, like any office technology, needs to be built with employees in mind.
By putting the human element at the core of all work technology, we can ensure that these new tools actually support employees, not just disengage them.
Arto Vahvanen is Head of Digital Offerings and Customer Experience at Framery and former Lead Product Manager at Nokia.
At Euronews we believe every opinion matters. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the conversation by submitting your pitch or contribution.