Learning Curve: Technology – Are our heads in the cloud?

by Tracy Clayson
Tracy Clayson is managing partner, business development
of Mississauga,
In Transit Personnel. tracy@in-transit.com

There is no longer a distinct division between work time and personal time.

Be it hyper-connectivity; driverless vehicles; smart cities; artificial intelligence; manufacturing automation; robotic warehouses; drone deliveries; Siri, the intelligent personal assistant; animation; virtual reality; or holograms, the only limit to technology is our imagination. Business today is entirely digitally driven, and over 75 percent of Canadians have a smart phone that they claim to enjoy because of the ability to communicate with others, time savings, increased resources for information and the offer of a range of creative outlets.

Of the 19,000 Canadian workers sampled in Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey, 68 percent reported job satisfaction in 2016. That is down 10 percent from the last survey ten years ago. This correlates to the increased use of Internet technologies and smart phones during the same time period. While the iPhone and other devices offer entertaining social apps, the downside is that smartphone for business is the new norm. From checking work emails at home to responding and engaging in work duties full on all the time, smartphone use increasingly interferes with home life.

The majority of working adults today are managing to balance the demands of career, family responsibilities, home and vehicle care, while also fitting in leisure time. The good news from the Statistics Canada report is Canadians between ages 15-64 say life is better due to technology use. Think about remote work: flex work, travel activity and how much getting to the job takes away from being on the job. Setting up WiFi/remote work cuts away the travel delays, reduces costs, saves time, office resources, scheduling and planning and a raft of other traditional employee management requirements.

If you do have to get to your office or onsite meetings, using the Waze app is a great tool that boosts GPS with real-time user data, especially critical in congested areas in major urban centres in Canada. As someone who spends the majority of work time in the car, tech features were a critical factor in car choice.

No matter where or how you work emails, search activities, social media participation and other non-productive, distracting and interferences are some of the negative factors that affect prioritizing goals. Now technology use can be measured and can be blocked off with certain apps. Rescue Time, for example, tracks time spent on certain applications. Having tools to help discipline our tech usage can prevent delays, allow one to get out of the office sooner and improve job completion success.

Another great tool for managing time and organizing work assignments and reducing meeting times is BaseCamp, an app that allows multiple parties participate in projects. It is reported to reduce fall-off of ownership, creates cut-off times for end-of-project deadlines and offers to-do lists, automatic reminders and connects entire teams to deadlines.

GoToMeeting, web portals and video conferencing for client relationship management, multi-branch meetings, and business presentations have really boosted information exchange for local and global businesses.

In the recruiting space, video interviews using Facetime, Skype and HR specific platforms such as Spark Hire have replaced in-person interviews, freeing up schedules and providing access to offsite locations.

Business development tools have been at the forefront of usage, with customer relationship management tools (CRMs) in existence for several decades. Now, with so many more ways to push sales and branding, leaders in the field are eight times more likely to be heavy tech adopters.
On the upside, the digitized workplace is eliminating mundane tasks and preventing data errors, completing document storing, scanning, sorting and data capture from a number of sources in an automated way with business processing management tools like Yakidoo.

Knowledge workers need to adapt to evolving technology regardless of age demographic. Marketability is all about an attitude of willingness to embrace the tech tools and continue to build skills necessary to advance one’s career. For those of us who are glued to screens and systems it might be wise to consider a tech diet or fast for the benefit of health, happiness and a boost of melatonin.