During the great office exodus of 2020, many people had to adjust to working remotely for the first time. For most, this meant learning how to use virtual meeting platforms, figuring how to forward calls from their desk phones, and reworking their processes to work with their new remote location. Technology was at the forefront of all these changes. However, adapting to new technology was already a challenge long before Covid, with heavy importance placed on staying up-to-date to compete with other businesses. So how good are we at adapting to new technologies? And how can we overcome these adaptation challenges?
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, technology has been evolving at an exponential rate. It’s mind-boggling to think that only 66 years stand between the first plane flight (1903) and a man on the moon (1969)! Technological innovation is one of the things we humans do best. Today, a study by Office Depot found that the average employee uses 10 different forms of technology to perform their regular job duties. In the study, technology is defined as “any hardware, software, programs, or tools that require time to learn." A notable 10% of those surveyed used over 21 forms of technology! Most employees also said, on average, they learn a new technology system every quarter. That’s a lot to handle and keep abreast of!
Despite the frequency of learning new technology, the same study found that 75% of those surveyed felt they were learning the ideal number of technologies. Most employees will look past the challenges and see that switching to a new device or software will ultimately benefit the company in the long run. Millennials in particular have shown they’re quick to pick up new things. This is perhaps due to growing up with rapidly advancing computers, phones, and gaming devices. Even if you aren’t a Millennial, you can rest assured that all our brains are pretty good at adapting to new things. In fact, our anxiety about the upcoming change is usually greater than the actual challenge of adapting to that change! According to that same Office Depot study, 76% of respondents said that adjusting to new technologies since going remote was either “not at all difficult” or “slightly difficult.” If you were required to work remotely this past year, think back to how you felt about the sudden change. Did it end up being as difficult as you imagined?
While most people are motivated and ready to adapt, they must be provided the right conditions in order to do so. When introducing new technologies, most employees desire more training so they can feel confident operating it. In addition, many employees wish they had adequate tech support in case they have a problem or question. Without these resources, employees feel unsupported and left to trudge through endless trials and errors. This in turn will slow down productivity and demotivate the company’s workforce. Strong leadership is also important during these times. Senior level employees are the most likely to get frustrated with new technology, so it’s important to always lead by example and keep your frustrations from boiling over. If the boss throws a fit over having to learn a new program, they can’t expect their employees to behave any better.
While staying abreast of constantly evolving technology can be daunting, rest assured that our brains are great at adapting. You’ve already adapting to more than you probably realize! When given enough time, training, and support, employees can overcome their frustrations and anxieties when learning about new technologies and propel the company forward.
By Aubrey Dion
Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.
Office Depot - Adapting to New Workplace Technology
EFront Learning - The Shock of the New: Helping Employees Adapt to New Technologies