Technology and Workplace Culture

Fox Business just came out with an interesting piece entitled “The Real Reason Americans Are Quitting Work.” The article was precipitated by an increase in the amount of Americans who quit their jobs this past September, which has risen dramatically to 2 percent of the workforce. It sites workplace culture as one of the main culprits for their disengagement, while begging the question, what can managers do better (or differently) to improve their workplace culture? They came up with four guidelines to keep in mind: Shared Identity, Shared Empathy, Shared Understanding and Connected Leaders. In my opinion, modern technology has provided us with solutions to help enhance all of these aspects of the workplace in the right ways necessary to make team members feel more at home. Let me explain… Shared Identity – Team members don’t want to feel like coming to work everyday is a rat race. That’s obvious. What isn’t as obvious is how to go about making each team member feel more connected. That’s where the technology comes in. Mobile devices and discussion groups allow every single member of an organization to have a direct line of communication with one another. That means more collaboration. That means more socializing. That means more feedback. All of that, in turn, adds up to team members feeling they have a greater say in shaping the common goal, thus forging a shared identity in the workplace.

Shared Empathy – Who wants to feel like a cog in a wheel? As the Fox article states “feelings are contagious,” and so is positive energy, now so more than ever in this age of increased interconnectivity. If you’re a manager, take note of behavior that you feel may have gone unnoticed. So, in turn, BE HUMAN.

Shared Understanding – Updates in real time. Those are the big words here: real time. Through the use of technology, such as Yammer and platform discussion groups, there is no longer an excuse for a substantial time lapse in an organizational setting. Everybody’s on the same page, at the same time, at all times. This provides greater flexibility in the workplace, because team members can communicate and collaborate on the go. It also means that the same information is being made available to everyone. Without this shared understanding, there is simply no chance for a shared identity. Have you ever heard of a successful business without a common identity and purpose?

Connected Leaders – BE AUTHENTIC. Effective leaders need to be connected, meaning that they “embrace the importance of conversation and have the patience to develop a consensus on issues that are important to team members at large.” All of the possibilities brought about by new technology that I’ve mentioned above play a role in helping to foster this. It used to be called an open door policy, but I’d like to rephrase the expression to an “Open Inbox” policy, meaning that your team members should never feel like your closed off from them. Field their concerns, talk things out. Share understanding. Empathize. Create a common identity. That’s what managing effectively is all about: being a CHIEF LISTENER.

Now, bringing this back to the intersection between real estate and technology (real estate is, after all, my business), I think that, despite everything I’ve said above, physical work environments play just as much of a part in shaping your workplace culture as does technology. In the end, they both affect the ways in which we communicate. That’s why we’ve seen such a rise in alternative office spaces, because new technology has allowed us to connect in ways in which physical proximity had only allowed us to do so before.

Regardless of all of the variables at play, management is all people-dependent. As a manager, you need to utilize the resources at your disposal to the best of your ability. Technology can’t fix all of your problems. If it was that simple, why do you think Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned team members from working at home? It’s hard to say whether or not I agree with this move, because it’s completely dependent on her team members and her relationship with them. However, on the whole, I do see technology as a tool that can effectively enhance workplace culture, whether your workplace is the typical office building or your living room.