The debate around technology, whether it’s a boon or a bane for humanity is age-old. Tons of science fiction stories out there warn us of its ill-effects. Much like the novel Frankenstein, this “technology out of control” story gets repeated a lot.
The Frankenstein complex is even stronger amongst employees in the context of offices. When the time clock was introduced in England, industrial workers looked upon it as a device to monitor them on work hours. Closer home, in Indian offices mechanically punched time cards were misused by employees engaging in practices of buddy punching; and companies started scouting for a better way to tackle this concern.
The question is about the approach. Should companies use technology to control & monitor employees or should they use it to increase efficiency, complement their skills and boost their productivity? For instance, in many companies the use of social media during office hours is restricted. It is considered a waste of clocking time. However, employee positive workplaces view it as a de-stresser. They believe few minutes of social interaction with friends & family helps employees to get back to work- refreshed!
Employee positive companies extend the same approach to their day-to-day operations & long-term people strategy, the common thread being technology with a human face. A face that the employees are comfortable with, one that helps them grow, eases the pressure, smoothens the process, allows them time & boosts their output. These companies use technology that validates increased performance and employee well-being and not just for cost reduction or employee checks.
Let’s understand with a few examples.
AI Powered Boss
What happens when we start seeing robots assisting our bosses? Gartner predicts that by 2018, three million employees worldwide will be supervised by Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s hard to imagine what the transformation will look like. Employee positive companies view it as a transformation that will safeguard the warmth of human interactions in offices leaving only people management to the reporting hierarchy whereas the Roboboss will be responsible for data driven decision making such as ranking opposing perspectives to solve disputes and disagreements in the team, business analysis, performance analysis, pattern recognition etc. The rationale behind this AI shift is to exclude any impact of emotions and mood on important decisions and at the same time negate any human prejudice that may hamper a working relationship within the team.
IOT will by widely adopted by employee positive companies as it places the workforce convenience at the center of office design innovations. In the parlance of smart offices IoT is going to revolutionize entry access, water, lighting, health, in-office ordering, air-conditioning, meeting room and desk booking, security and other smart tech. The control will be made available at the touch of a button, or even better in an app embedded within your own phone. The ability to digitally control & smart manage physical spaces will give power to the employees keeping in mind their comfort, convenience & user-friendliness.
In today’s world, flexibility breeds satisfaction and hence shift to mobile devices will stand for a progressive culture with remote working or travel friendly possibilities for employees. Employee positive companies seek to blur the lines between all office branches, cafeterias & common areas, public spots & an employee’s own home. Usage of an employee’s own device is helping this shift. Adoption of touch interfaces that the millennial population is so used to; in their personal lives, and extending the same technology in the office space is smoothening this transformation. Let’s take the example of access management at offices. Traditionally, most offices use a paper based log-book for visitors and access cards for employees. Both ways it’s a process that involves carrying those unfashionable cards around, restricts mobility in-case the card has been misplaced or an employee forgets to carry it. Visitors also feel ripped off their privacy when a log-book open to all; records their personal details. Employee positive companies understand this as an inconvenience and adopt touch-based mobile & cloud based, self-serviced technology, much like Veris, to record & validate employee/ visitor information & manage all workflows at the click of a button. The mobile app doubles as a digital identity for all employees completely bypassing the need of an access card. Not only that, it also helps employees receive important alerts & notifications on their phone directly; be it the arrival of their invited guests or an evacuation alert, be it the confirmation of a meeting or a visitors request to access wifi.