The following essay was written as an entry for the Offices.net 2017/2018 Scholarship by the 1st place award winner Natalie Verdiguel from the University of Central Florida. Thank you for your submission, Natalie, and congratulations on winning 1st place!
“How Technology Affects the Work Environment Today”
Technology has affected the workplace in ways that have changed it permanently. With the widespread use of mobile devices like cell phones and tablets, work is no longer limited to materials just in the office. Now, doing anything from finishing a presentation to having a meeting via conference call can all be done from the comfort of wherever a worker chooses. Of course time at the office is still essential, but technology allows those unable to be present at such a location, like in the case of large businesses, to be present without physically traveling to the desired location. It is quicker and more cost effective without sacrificing the personal relationship that develop with meeting face to face. Technology has increased efficiency and
One of the most noticeable aspects of change is the way technology is redefining the very meaning of a workplace. Employees are no longer confined to cubicles and board rooms, but now have the option of working from the comfort of their homes, cars, hotel rooms, or anywhere else they deem convenient if necessary. Personal technology has made its way into the workplace; “Instead of relying on IT-sanctioned desktop computers and centrally deployed software, you’re much more likely to find people using their personal mobile devices to check work email, review company data, manage projects, and create content” (Slattery, 2017). Workers are no longer limited to their office computer for accessing important documents and information; with the advent of smart phones and tablets, work related materials are now easily transferable and are made more accessible where having a computer may not be an option. As long as there is a device and a secure internet connection, work can be done anywhere at any time.
In addition to not being confined to the traditional workplace, technologies like video chat and email have also streamlined communications for companies where a singular workplace is not an option. For large, international businesses, this technology can save a company the expenses like transportation, hotel, and food that is involved in the travel necessary for everyone to meet in a single location. The way meetings are carried out have changed immensely, “Collaboration used to happen in board rooms with whiteboards and bagels. Today, it’s on documents being edited by multiple people all over the world at the same time. It’s sharing screen data and chatting over video. ‘Seventy-nine percent of people work on virtual teams’” (Burg, 2013). With the ease that comes with meeting digitally versus in person, its no wonder why the traditional meeting setting of a boardroom is becoming a thing of the past.
Aside from just conference calls and emails, technology helps workers feel more connected to their workplace and coworkers. Social media sites help bridge the gap between professional and personal, “The surprising truth about social networks is that it fills the humanity gap many global workers feel in cold, impersonal email chains and conference calls.” (Burg, 2013). With sites like Facebook, it is easy to connect with coworkers, and the benefits are numerous. Connecting outside of work situations with social media develops networking opportunities and a sense of camaraderie that aids in group efforts, increasing productivity.
The benefits of technology in the workplace overwhelmingly outnumbers any potential drawbacks it may come with. An online survey conducted September 12-18, 2014, was analyzed by Pew Research with 1,066 participants age 18 and older who use the internet or email at least occasionally, or have access to a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet at least occasionally. The general consensus on technology and productivity was as follows:
“Overall, 92% of working adults say the internet has not hurt their productivity at work. This includes 46% who say the internet has made them more productive and another 46% who say the internet has had no impact on their productivity. Fewer than one in ten working adults say the internet has made them less productive in the workplace.” (Purcell, Rainie, 2014).
This research supports the belief that technology facilitates productivity, as in another part of the survey, 35% of adults reported that the mobility of technology has increased the amount of time they spend working. With allowing more time to be spent working and increased productivity, technology has benefited the workplace by lessening the risk of missed deadlines and unsatisfactory work as a result of rushed efforts.
With technology, a workplace no longer has to fit the conventional standards of an office or cubicle space. Now, a workplace is just that; a place work can be done, regardless of location. It has allowed for more convenience and mobility, as well as connected larger companies with ease and cost effectiveness without sacrificing interpersonal relations. Social media bridges that gap seamlessly with sites like Facebook that make outside of work connections simple, as well as allowing for networking opportunities. Technology has changed the workplace from a designated
building, to any place that work can be done.
- Burg, Natalie. “UnifyVoice: How Technology Has Changed Workplace Communication.”Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 July 2017.
- Purcell, Kristen, and Lee Rainie. “Email and the Internet Are the Dominant Technological Tools in American Workplaces.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. N.p., 30 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 July 2017.
- Slattery, Avanade Mick. “How Consumer Technology Is Remaking the Workplace.” Wired. Conde Nast, 06 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 July 2017.