Today, we rely on technology like never before in our professional lives. We use it to conduct daily tasks, handle schedules, keep us connected and organized. But is technology helping or harming our productivity?
Ways Technology Helps Productivity
There are many ways connectivity and technology have helped us improve our productivity, including:
- Efficiency: In the 1950s, if you wanted to share information with a coworker you had to have a typist make a copy of the information, then you’d physically have to walk that information to your colleague to share it. If the colleague worked in a different location, you had to send “interoffice mail” through a courier. Today, you can just send documents in emails and instant messages.
- Automation: Technology has helped humans automate tasks that would take hours to do manually. There was a time, for example, when accountants had to use handwritten books to keep track of every cent that went in and out of a business. Reconciling could take days, weeks or even a full month. Now, thanks to automation, reconciliation is ongoing, saving countless hours and reducing errors.
- Collaboration: It has never been easier to collaborate at work. Technology allows teams to meet instantly through videoconference, keep track of projects through project management tools and to collaborate in real-time on a single document, preventing multiple versions and confusion.
How Technology Can Hurt Productivity
There is, however, a downside to technology.
- Outages: Everyone has experienced the panic of a network, app or platform going down. When technology has an outage, work grinds to a standstill because we are so dependent on that technology.
- Distraction: It takes 23 minutes to fully recover after a single distraction. That means some employees never go a whole day in full-focus because they are constantly being interrupted by instant messages, emails or even their devices.
- Dependence: “Back in the olden days,” employees would have to look things up in a book or reference guide, write the information down and commit it to memory. Today, they can look anything up on a computer or mobile device whenever they need to. Since we are so reliant on Google, our cognitive “muscles” have gotten a bit lazy, impacting our memory and increasing our reliance on online resources which eats into the time we could be doing a task.
- Inability to disconnect: Productivity depends on a person’s ability to rest and recharge. Thanks to technology, employees are always connected. If they are constantly fielding emails from the time they leave the office to the time they come back, burnout is a real concern.