When most people discuss technological innovations in business, they automatically gravitate towards the features and benefits. However, if we’re really honest about the rapid advances in technology, we have to acknowledge that there are also plenty of downsides. The question is, is technology hurting or helping business productivity?
How Technology Helps Productivity
When a new technology is introduced into the business world, you’ll almost always see it accompanied by words like “efficiency,” “output,” or “streamlined.” Almost every tool is pushed – in one form or another – as some type of productivity tool.
While some technology is certainly more helpful than others, here are some specific ways new innovations help productivity in the workplace.
It’s virtually impossible to avoid multitasking in today’s business environment. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it on your own. There are a variety of new technologies that help consolidate and automate responsibilities.
Project portfolio management software is a great example. These solutions help streamline the management of multiple projects at once, which allows project managers to create more realistic schedules, avoid overloading project teams, and solve problems faster (among other benefits).
2. Meeting Efficiency
Research from Bain & Company finds that 15 percent of an organization’s collective time is spent preparing for and attending meetings. That’s more than an hour per day per employee. New innovations in the area of collaboration have significantly cut back on the time spent on meetings.
3. Customer Service
You can’t ignore customer service, but isn’t it tempting? Trying to answer emails, field phone calls, and manage repetitive interactions with customers and clients eats away at your time. Once again, technology comes to the rescue and improves productivity.
Whether it’s CRM software or chatbots that help you serve customers, there’s a lot of innovation happening in the customer service space. The direct benefit is obviously better customer relations, but productivity is absolutely an indirect advantage.
How Technology Hurts Productivity
Data from the Bureau of Labor statistics shows that the rate of growth in productivity has been dropping in the business sector since 2007. While it could be coincidental, there has also been a huge increase in the rise of business technology and solutions from 2007 to now. Could it be that technology actually hurts productivity? Here are a few arguments that support this idea:
1. Online Distractions
For all of the benefits the internet yields, it’s also a tremendous source of distraction. You might pull up a browser to research something for a project, but before long you end up surfing the web, reading news headlines, and scrolling through Facebook.
You aren’t alone. This is a huge issue for businesses in every industry. In this sense, technology can be a major distraction and source of friction for employers who want their employees to focus while on “company time.”
2. Too Much Reliance on Virtual Communication
There’s something to be said for the convenience and simplicity of email, SMS, and instant messaging. But for all of the benefits that virtual communication provides, it’s easy for these modes to become crutches.
Too much reliance on virtual communication hampers efficiency and limits transparency. Whereas a simple face-to-face conversation could solve an issue in a matter of minutes, back and forth email exchanges take hours or days to unfold (and meaning is easily lost in translation).
3. Security Issues
Every time a business adopts new software or a virtual solution, it opens the company up to additional security risks. In order to account for these threats, businesses have to use energy and resources to shore up vulnerabilities and prevent attacks. Over time, this hampers productivity and output in other key areas.
Usefulness is in the Eye of the Beholder
Does technology hurt or help productivity in business? It depends on how the company chooses to integrate and use technology that determines whether it’s a hindrance or a help. There are definitely pros and cons, but the right strategy should enable most companies to gain far more than they lose.