Make sure workplace tech keeps pace.

We all have mobile devices. Multiple devices. In fact, you’ve probably got several within easy reach right now, and chances are you’re reading this on one too.

The success of mobile technology is not only in its astonishing breadth of capability and ease of use, but in the manufacturer’s design, making us covet shiny little boxes of all shapes and sizes, as much for the image they help us project of ourselves as for the functionality they hold.

We regularly download new inexpensive apps that save us time and money, we share photos and communicate with friends at the push of a button, we book holidays and do our banking on the go, we video concerts while stood in muddy fields on our phones. We are never far from it. We are always using it.

So why does the world of work struggle to keep pace?

Many businesses have just not kept up with the rate of technological change and quite often for the simple reason of cost. The cost of upgrading hardware and software for a whole workforce has been prohibitive.

Once upon a time most consumers’ experience of technology was the direct result of what they’d seen or used at work. But then came the technological big bang, the start of the new technological age and everything changed. We started buying phones, laptops and tablets for ourselves and quickly consumer technology took the lead. Now, it’s consumer technology leading the workplace.

The more modern progressive firms were quick to realise the advantage that this proliferation of mobile technology could bring, encouraging employees to bring their phones and tablets to work to help them in their daily roles. Of course this presented some headaches for IT too, giving them compatibility and security challenges to navigate.

But it’s also given the role of the in-house IT a makeover too. It’s no longer just about problem solving it’s about business enablement, finding ways to harness consumer technologies for good use, looking for new software apps and ideas to help improve communication and speed up business processes. If out-dated technology is holding your business back and creating greater inefficiency, it’s time to stop and make changes.

Consumer technology has removed barriers and constraints, allowing us to do more in less time and workplace technology must do the same. Collaboration technology is the phrase that’s been coined for this and it refers to those technologies that help employees to work together, develop ideas and share information more readily.

The term collaboration technology spans everything from file sharing to real-time collaboration tools, video calling to presentation technologies, room management systems to corporate instant messaging.

Investing in new technological hardware and software can seem very financially onerous but today’s employees expect more intuitive, easy to use solutions that supports them in the way they work and the location they choose to do it. Although an investment, it will be offset by gains in productivity quickly.

The digital revolution has shown that being connected with those around us, both in our immediate vicinity and further afield is important. We want to be part of the bigger picture and take part in the global conversation. A workforce that is connected will be one that is better engaged, focused and productive. Technology is an enabler.

Here’s seven ways to make some technological improvements with ease:

1) Set up an internal focus group and ask for your team’s thoughts on your workplace technology. Consider the user experience of any in-house technology or software – is time lost because it’s not intuitive to use? Use the comments to take a closer look at your strategy.
2) Talk to the younger members of your team (coined digital nomads) about the apps and technologies they use outside of work – their own experiences could identify solutions that have value in the workplace.
3) Make sure company networks support the use of employee’s own devices – can they reach the files they need with ease from their phones, tablets and laptops?
4) Make sure laptops are suitably mobile, not huge heavy items that your employees won’t want to take anywhere.
5) Ensure all company devices have full functionality outside the workplace as well as within – that includes access to all business networks and resources.
6) Make sure your employees have easy access to power – mobile devices need to be charged.
7) If you’ve already invested in new systems make sure they’re being used properly. User adoption is key to a new investment translating into business efficiencies. Your employees must know how to use it.

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