How Technology Makes Work More Human
The relationship between technology, humans and productivity runs back through the centuries, but the nature of that relationship is ever-evolving. The Industrial Revolution enabled the move from cottage industries to mass production, where humans physically operated the revolutionary machinery as essential cogs in the production process. With greater automation, the human workforce began to be freed up to focus on higher cognitive tasks, and the role of leaders was to coordinate these tasks effectively.
The Age of Automation
The technological revolution has accelerated this even further, so that more and more tasks can be automated, and this creates an unprecedented opportunity for us to focus our time, energy and resources on those things that are fundamentally human: things like creativity and innovation, social connection and collaboration. The role of leaders has therefore transitioned from leading and managing tasks performed by humans to leading the humans themselves.
The Human Factor
Add to this a societal shift in what we expect from our institutions, businesses and organisations. We still expect efficiency, productivity and profitability – of course – but these are no longer enough. There has been a tangible move towards the social and environmental impact of the work we engage in: what is the point, and what is the impact?
It’s almost as if the age of technology and automation has brought us full circle, from the community-centric existence of pre-Industrial Revolution to a new global community. Technological advances have enabled us to impact at scale and at pace, but all while leading with our essential humanness, and our desire for connection and meaning in our work. When technology takes care of the operations, the data and the tasks, it is human characteristics like creativity, cooperation, empathy and innovation that will make the difference for future success. It is therefore the responsibility of leaders to foster, inspire and engage these drivers in their human workforce.
Leading Well With Technology
As with all things, it’s about finding the right balance. As technology is evermore integrated into the workplace, there is all the more potential for employees to thrive in their roles, to advance and elevate the success of the organisation, and to find meaning and purpose in their work. When employers and leaders use technology well, it is a powerful tool for supporting employees in their work and in their wellbeing.
- Free up more time and focus by taking certain tasks off their plate.
- Make it easier and more efficient for them to get their work done.
- Streamline connection and communication.
- Enable flexible and remote working.
- Facilitate regular feedback and employee input.
Technology should not:
- Add extra, time-consuming layers of admin to daily tasks.
- Lead to increased isolation.
- Create an unhealthy expectation that employees should always be available and “switched on”.
- Foster an oppressive sense of being constantly monitored and tracked.
One of the keys to integrating technology and using it well to empower the humanness of your workforce is to ensure that all employees are properly trained and confident in the tools and platforms that are relevant to them and their role. If employees are unsure about how to use the technology at their disposal, this can create stress and anxiety, as well as leading to mistakes and wasted hours.
Technology Meets Human Emotion
At Inpulse, we have harnessed the power of technology in the digital age to make it easier for employers to prioritise employee wellbeing. Our emotional analytics platform uses digital tools to measure how your people are actually feeling, so that you can make informed decisions about how best to nurture, engage and empower your most valuable assets. Through things like pulse surveys, human emotions and wellbeing can be translated into actionable data to improve the employee experience. Emotional analytics is a powerful example of how technology can actually make work, and workplaces, more human.