In a world where there’s an app for just about everything, companies are increasingly cherry-picking the optimal app for the task at hand. This best-of-breed approach, where the top software tools are selected to perform specific functions, can drive everything from productivity to employee satisfaction. In the early 2000s, companies were stuck with single providers that offered a full A-to-Z software suite, whether users needed (or wanted) everything or not. But thanks to plummeting switching costs, user choice and employee happiness have become North Star metrics for IT departments.
It’s not all smooth sailing though. With new opportunities come new pressures, and the proliferation of apps can be a source of frustration and a strain on productivity. Findings from Slack's recent The Remote Work Tech Effect study revealed that only 1 in 4 Australian knowledge workers felt the technology in their workplace was sufficiently integrated. In fact, 4 in 5 felt integration could be improved.
As companies expand on their workplace technology offerings, they need to fully understand the implications these changes are having on their employees. Using the right technology in the right way has proven to be essential to boosting productivity, yet failing to effectively integrate workday apps can actually have the opposite effect.
Over half of Aussie knowledge workers are concerned that juggling and navigating between multiple apps is eating up too much time in their workday. The majority found switching between different platforms to find past conversations or where files were saved was a source of frustration, flagging other issues like; wasting time (33 percent), difficulty finding information (29 percent), loss of productivity (28 percent) and not knowing where to store information (27 percent).
Having the right technology allows Aussie knowledge workers to work faster and more efficiently. Not only is this the opinion of the employees themselves, with 80 percent attributing speed at work to tech, it’s also reflected in their productivity. Global Slack research found users were more productive in their workday by using app proliferation software like Slack instead of email. Making the switch saved an average of 101 minutes a day – that’s 8.4 hours every working week! By being more thoughtful with what technology is being implemented, and considering what impact that has on employees, Aussie companies can take back almost an entire extra day every week.
For Tyro Payments, a fast-growing business bank, when responding to major incidents, speed is of the essence. The team relies on Slack automations to reach faster resolutions. To start with, Tyro introduced a process for reporting incidents via a Slack slash command. Anyone at the company can type the command to sound the alarm. Once an incident is identified, Slack integrations kick in: PagerDuty issues an alert and Zapier spins up a dedicated Slack channel – a virtual space where teammates can share information and collaborate. Key stakeholders are pulled into the channel, where they can review the incident information and work with others on a response.
Having the technology that ‘does the job’ isn’t enough anymore. It needs to provide the ability to communicate and collaborate. Demand for collaborative tech is at an all-time high, with the right platforms and tools flagged by professionals as critical to employee experience. 91 percent of professionals said collaboration software allows them to work more efficiently (up from 71 percent last year). 91 percent said it allows them to easily access all the information they need to do their job (up from 74 percent last year). And 90 percent said it allowed them to better communicate with their team (up from 74 percent last year).
Feeling connected with teams is crucial to making work more enjoyable and maintaining a positive mindset among workforces, with an overwhelming 82 percent of Aussie knowledge workers saying effective communication and collaborative tech is integral to their wellbeing at work. 4 in 5 said it helps them feel more connected to their team. Overall, a majority of employees believe that the adoption of technology has a positive impact on workplace culture. Employees have expressed a clear need for businesses to provide them with the right technology to do their job. It’s now up to businesses leaders to take this onboard, or risk devaluing their ability to attract and retain talent.
Online global design platform Canva has more than 1,000 employees who use Slack channels to share messages and files, and to collaborate on projects. In 2019, Canva launched a seasonal campaign, ‘Pasko’ (the Tagalog word for Christmas), that invited people to design an online greeting card for their loved ones. The company and its external agencies relied on Slack Connect - which allows users to access all the features of Slack while collaborating with external partners - from the initial planning stages to the campaign launch. For the Pasko campaign, Canva’s Slack Connect channel was able to bring together their in-house PR and communications teams, as well as the external PR agency who helped to steer logistics on the ground. They were also able to work with the internal brand studio who looked after creative assets, and a community team that facilitated families' real-life surprise moments.
One major roadblock in bridging the gap between having the right technology and turning it into a beneficial tool is training. Three in five Aussie knowledge workers said they had greater confidence using software and apps at work than they had prior to the pandemic. 70 percent felt their organisation was making better use of software and apps than they did 6 months ago. However, more work needs to be done. Many companies are bringing new technology onboard without taking into consideration that employees need to be trained to be able to use it efficiently and confidently. 44 percent of professionals said they still do not feel adequately trained on how to use the technology required to do their jobs.
Technology is changing the way we work, but businesses need to take pause and think about the tools they need, how they will impact their employees and the training needed to maximise their potential. COVID-19 meant that a lot of businesses scrambled to build tech stacks to cope with the new way of working, but now is the time to evaluate those decisions to make sure that they create more solutions than problems.
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