Tech­nol­o­gy has cer­tain­ly made the work­place faster, smarter and more pro­duc­tive. New apps and sys­tems con­tin­u­ous­ly offer new ways to cre­ate, man­age and col­lab­o­rate. How­ev­er, just as with many good things, work­ers can get too much of office tech. With each dig­i­ti­za­tion of tra­di­tion­al job and team func­tions comes a cost in dimin­ish­ing asso­ci­at­ed skills. Many for­ward-think­ing com­pa­nies are tak­ing heed of the poten­tial pit­falls of tech over­load. Check out some par­tic­u­lar haz­ards culled from across the Web.

Loss of Inter­per­son­al Skills — Video chats, group chats, IMs, DMs, texts, pings, not to men­tion old-fash­ioned email cer­tain­ly afford a mul­ti­tude of ways to com­mu­ni­cate, even col­lab­o­rate. How­ev­er, there’s no replace­ment for face-to-face inter­ac­tion. Over-reliance on dig­i­tal chan­nels can dimin­ish the oppor­tu­ni­ties and abil­i­ty to col­lab­o­rate in the most free-form man­ner, that being when folks share the same room.

Inhibits Big Think­ing — Unlim­it­ed infor­ma­tion flow can some­times turn into over­flow. Con­tin­u­ous text alerts, IMs and oth­er pings can inhib­it com­ple­tion of the task at hand. They can also cause mis­takes due to lack of con­cen­tra­tion. While press­ing issues can be quick­ly resolved, con­tin­u­al inter­rup­tions leave lit­tle or no time for work­ing through larg­er projects and long-term planning.

Impaired Secu­ri­ty — It’s an unfor­tu­nate fact of busi­ness life that the more freely infor­ma­tion flows, even behind fire­walls, the more sus­cep­ti­ble it is to hack­ing, cor­rup­tion and theft. As well-pub­li­cized inci­dents have shown, cor­po­rate infor­ma­tion is not the only data at risk, but also finan­cial and per­son­al data of employ­ees and cus­tomers. It’s vital that when com­pa­nies upgrade their busi­ness tech, their secu­ri­ty tech and pro­to­cols keep pace.

Time and Main­te­nance Costs — The only sure bet with a new appli­ca­tion or sys­tem is that it will require updates. Also, while out-of-pock­et expens­es can be quan­ti­fied, less-obvi­ous costs of down­time devot­ed to sys­tem main­te­nance and train­ing can pose sig­nif­i­cant drag on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and in some cas­es job sat­is­fac­tion. More com­pa­nies are dis­cov­er­ing that not every tech wave is worth catch­ing, espe­cial­ly if it crash­es against strained budgets.

Encroach­ment on Per­son­al Time — Cer­tain­ly bound­aries of nor­mal work­ing hours have been sig­nif­i­cant­ly extend­ed. While tech has indeed freed work­ers from cubi­cle and office teth­ers, it can also tempt man­agers and team mem­bers to infringe, often unknow­ing­ly, on the per­son­al lives of their reports. Yes, emer­gen­cies may arise. But work­ers repeat­ed­ly besieged with after-hour queries may seek oth­er places to use their devices.

It May Be Unhealthy — Work is stress­ful enough. While tech­nol­o­gy has cer­tain­ly speed­ed oper­a­tions, it’s con­cur­rent­ly raised everyone’s expec­ta­tions. Some research indi­cates that over-reliance on devices may increase stress lev­els with poten­tial­ly adverse health con­se­quences. For bet­ter health, occa­sion­al­ly put down the phone!

Find out more:
Small Busi­ness Chron­i­cle: Pros & Cons of Tech­nol­o­gy in Busi­ness Today
CIO: Amer­i­cans Suf­fer Tech­nol­o­gy Over­load, But We Want More
North­east Val­ley News: Tech­nol­o­gy Over­load Caus­ing Health Problems

By Bill Olson

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