Is technology the cause or the solution to technostress?

By Phoebe Barker

StoryShare CEO Rob Dumbleton responds to The BBC’s report warning businesses of the risks of technology distractions, based on a survey by tech giants Microsoft. All he needs is two minutes a day to change workforce productivity for good.

Are you paying attention?

In a chaotic 21st century where most of us have more apps on our phones than friends in our address books, we are inundated with messaging from thousands of different sources. It is no surprise our attention spans are shrinking and that employee productivity is at an all time low.

There is nothing more distracting than the constant barrage of information, numerous open tabs and an unstoppable influx of emails. Consequently we are all becoming less focused and suffering from ‘technostress’.

In this new digital world of IM’s and DM’s, how do we filter the content we’re exposed to and focus the platforms we use to save ourselves time and become more productive?

Productive or plodding?

Only 11.4% of workers feel highly productive, which means just under 90% of the workforce are not fulfilling their potential and producing their best possible work.

Imagine the transformational improvements that could be made if the 90% stopped plodding along and instead reengaged, maximising their input. The benefits include a 17% increase in productivity, 21% higher profitability and a 70% reduction in safety incidents.

Mind over tech

How many apps, programs and platforms do you use each day just for work? Gmail? Outlook? Slack? Zoom? LinkedIn? Pipedrive? I’ve already lost count.

An abundance of technology does not translate to an abundance of success.

The key is to be relevant. Time and time again we’ve seen businesses invest big money in huge software changes only to fall at the first hurdle. We’re not seeing tech meet the expectations of the employees or adapt to flexible working. The technology is simply not fit for purpose.

That’s not the only problem…

In a perfect world, the tech should be as good in the workplace as it is at home. By 2020 50% of the UK workforce will work remotely– that’s next year! Catering for this deskless workforce can no longer take a backseat. The software needs to be mobile-friendly to parallel how users work, whether it be from their living room, abroad, commuting, or in co-working spaces.

How complicated are your programs? Companies are losing time trying to deploy and integrate systems, battling with a plethora of different tech platforms while also trying to work out and remember how the system works. It’s not rocket science, the approach and the platform need simplifying.

Know your platforms to know your people

One area of employee engagement that many IT and leadership teams miss the benefits of is in the analysis of their technology platforms. By studying platform usage, you can understand how your people are using the platforms and track what content interests them. If you know what interests them, you know what drives them.

Who in the last year has really analysed their enterprise search to understand what their people are looking for? Companies spend millions on SEO and search analysis, but almost nothing on looking at the results of their internal comms platforms. This analysis would tell them what their people need.

Immunisation against technostress

Findings from Microsoft’s technology survey across 20,000 European workers suggest that a company’s “digital culture” could improve workers’ productivity and help them feel more involved in their organisations.

Creating a strong digital culture is about balancing reliable software with effective deployment. Choose workforce experience platforms that prioritise targeted, tailored and personalised content sharing in real-time, with a key focus on clarity, relevance and importance.

Sir Cary Cooper, a professor of organisational psychology, hit the nail on the head when he clarified that the use of technology has to be about the right fit with your audience.

He believes “productivity comes from creative interchange… It does not come from people sitting in front of machines sending emails.” Employee engagement strategies should match this. Sticking with the norms of emails and long-winded sit-down meetings need to be replaced with quick, flexible platforms that best work to keep up with their users.

2 minutes a day keeps a disengaged workforce away

We know that two minutes a day is all that is needed to increase productivity and sales and lower attrition. Some of our clients have had a 15% increase in sales by designing a platform around their audience to make a small change to digital culture with big results.

When employees can connect with a platform that integrates seamlessly with their work-life, they connect with their jobs and with each other. Deployment and engagement, and checking in for company news and updates can all be done in just a couple of minutes.

Finding a solution

People need to stop and think. They need to ask themselves- who will this writing help or benefit?

Monitoring behaviours and trends to serve up content based on specific circumstances is vital. The information you share has to be curated and remain relevant, so everyone has the capacity to fully process what they’re reading. Often social media becomes an overload of overzealous egos and opinions, neither of which are likely to be of interest to other readers.

A technostress-free zone

The imbalance between company transformation, the remote workforce and digital engagement is a growing problem, and will continue to negatively impact the bottom line if companies don’t act now. Without giving your employees the tools to best focus on their jobs and communicate with their company, their work will suffer. And if their work suffers, so will yours.

About StoryShare

StoryShare exists so employees can love their work.

StoryShare is a SaaS Communication and Learning Experience Platform optimised for mobile. The platform delivers ‘Netflix style’ communication and learning experiences to improve employee engagement and better equip people to do their jobs. The service can reach any employee, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

StoryShare is deployed at leading brands including Unilever, Accenture, Covestro, Renault and Upfield.