Technology is Changing the Way We Work: Are You Ready?
by Michael Huber, Director of Sales
with Ken Enloe, Director of Human Resources
It’s a typical day: My smartphone dings with incoming work emails and texts, I’ve got a meeting via video conference and I’m connecting with employees working remotely. There’s no doubt that technology plays a huge part in the workplace. As a technology company, we’ve certainly seen hardware and software shifts over the years, especially in more recent times. How is it affecting the more human side of things though?
Recently, I was able to sit down with Ken Enloe, Huber & Associates’ Director of Human Resources to dive deeper into how technology is changing the way we work. Business is becoming more digital and the recent rise in remote work has created both opportunities and challenges for businesses. From the HR perspective, these best practices can help you maximize the benefits and minimize the problems:
Ken Enloe, Huber & Associates’ Director of Human Resources
One of the first things to consider as your company does more business digitally or hires remote workers is: Do you have the tech infrastructure for increased demands on your network? You’ll need to ensure that everyone can access the resources they need to do their jobs, whether that’s remote access to your networks and files or handling the bandwidth needed for increased video conferencing.
Keeping data and users safe has always been a business priority. Do you have the right security measures in place to protect your employees and your intellectual property? Your company needs to have good policies in place, governing who can access sensitive and confidential data. This means everything from your HR employee records (which can include personal information like social security numbers, health information, and retirement accounts) down to coworker communications.
At Huber & Associates, we recommend looking at your company’s cybersecurity tools and implementing things like 2-factor authentication to ensure that it truly is your employees accessing your data.
While creating opportunities for more collaboration, a more digital work environment tends to create some additional challenges in the way that you communicate. We’ve all seen the pitfalls of video conferencing, and we’ve even personally experienced them at Huber & Associates. Remember to turn off your video or monitor your “Mute” button when needed… or better yet, maybe refrain from sharing that negative thing you are thinking about your coworker while on a work call.
At the same time, without face-to-face or verbal conversations, messages are more open to being interpreted through our own personal filters. As our very own Jim Huber would recommend, if it is an important conversation, direct verbal communication via face-to-face or over the phone is best. Don’t fall back on the quick and easy text message or email when it may not be the effective approach. Be deliberate and intentional in not only what you say but the method by which you communicate.
A very standard HR best practice, especially if the communication involves sensitive or disciplinary issues, is always to follow up a verbal communication with a written summary of the conversation. This gives both parties the ability to confirm or dispute the takeaways from that interaction, while also providing documentation. This can help alleviate miscommunications and ensure that everyone is working with the same understanding.
This new “always-on” workplace has blurred the boundaries between work time and personal time, but you can help your employees strike a better work/life balance. At Huber & Associates, we recognize the value of taking your personal time, connecting with your family, taking a vacation, and simply disconnecting. We understand that most jobs can be accomplished from anywhere in the world, but is that always necessary? Help your employees plan for and be intentional about disconnecting from their work to avoid burnout.
Encourage your employees to set out-of-office responses when they are taking time away from work to disconnect. This sets a boundary for the employee that alleviates the stress of needing to respond while also communicating and setting expectations for coworkers of when you’ll be available.
Technology is changing the way we work, but the most important action is to find what works for your business. Employers and businesses should look at their own companies and see what will help their teams thrive.