Technology and Work – Re-imagining Work Shifts in the Digital Revolution – RSA Animate

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Technology and Work – Re-imagining Work Shifts in the Digital Revolution – RSA Animate

A different culture of collaboration in technology is happening today that is completely inverted to typical organizational culture in that sharing in technology is open with some information kept private, while in organizations, most information is private until it is decided to become open. Our working lives have become outdated and productivity is now redefined by technology. No longer do standard processes apply as creativity and innovation are necessary and more available to us as much of what we do has increased in capacity and in automation.

We must take heed that we don’t become busy being busy as technology can flood us beyond human capacity such as with emails. Office designs themselves are changing to reflect the new types of collaboration. In cubicle world, people will defer to emailing someone three cubicles over. In an open space built for collaboration, conversations can occur that are the impetus for productive work and innovation. Learning also occurs within the real conversations. But there is more that technology may allow for us to be pre-emptively productive.

Open spaces can lead to stress as privacy is reduced. Monitors are able to be read and seen and looked over by management and this can lead to anxiety. Behavioral changes become conformist in nature, reducing us to the lowest common denominator- little risk, no gain attitude. The nature of work is changing most distinctly in the breaking down of these spatial and psychological barriers. No longer do people have to collaborate between cubicles or even share the open spaces. Connectivity means we can be anywhere, anytime and produce results. Yet we still commute and treat our physical space with the physical abilities we had 50 years ago and continue with routines induced at the start of the industrial age.

Using technology efficiently and developing a culture around understanding the impacts of technology is key to allowing productivity to flourish. The biggest barrier to allowing this greater productivity is TRUST. Management does not trust what their people are doing so they demand bums on seats, more than this, studies showed that employees do not trust each other when they are working virtually. Even when teleworking or working virtually, employees send more emails and make more calls in an effort to be more ‘visible’ to management and to others, which destroys the advantages of working away from the office. We need to create the cognitive space where the real thinking and innovation can be done.

Office space, collaboration, and community development within the workplace have to fundamentally change if we are to meet the needs for innovation. The confidence in the employees has to flourish to make things happen. With the right infrastructure, culture and process, organizations can overcome the fear of change.

About the Author:

Christopher Caldwell is an author and educator in organizational sustainability, leadership and change.

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