(Guest post by Mark Kirkpatrick)
Technology’s role in business continues to grow at a remarkable rate, and 2016 is sure to see plenty of new trends on top of the growth of old methods and strategies. Optimizing work efficiency is now impossible without a variety of connection options and devices available to employees.
However, giving employees a variety of options with little guidance probably is going to lead to a time-wasting outcome. An employee’s engagement with technology can have unintended consequences or can outright fail to work for a couple of possible reasons.
This is why understanding current technological trends in employee engagement is key to productivity. Knowing not only what’s out there, but how to apply it will guarantee effective use of technology and improved efficiency in the workplace.
New Communications Options
As new college graduates enter your workforce, they have vastly different expectations for a “connected” workforce than someone hired 10 or 15 years ago. Look for successful companies to aggressively tap the ability of newly hired workers to communicate in new ways, keeping everyone engaged more effectively.
Video calling and conferencing has been available for a long while now–this being a science fiction fantasy when most millennial employees were born, the next steps in communication are likely to make rapid and effective communication the new norm.
As network and Internet bandwidth continues to expand, the ability to efficiently view real-time video will expand as well. Because it’s such an effective tool for communicating with a large group at varying times, the usage of video for communications is expected continue to grow rapidly.
This allows for not only the sharing of information, but collaboration. As the length of collaborative video shortens, the “collaborative” aspect increases in efficiency. For remote collaboration or even training new employees, social video is an indispensable tool
Not only do businesses need to connect with customers using varying forms of social networks, but social networks also work well for keeping employees engaged. Keep up with the latest social networking options, which change rapidly. If Facebook is your only means of keeping employees engaged via social networking, for example, you’re well behind the times. New ways of collecting data are increasing the value of social networks for employees, so that not only is it a means of communication, but a means of gathering information that can later be used in promotions or further efficiency efforts.
With smartphone and tablet penetration continuing to grow, the desire of employees to bring their own devices to work is going to continue to grow. While network administrators sometimes resist providing access to devices the company doesn’t own, employees are more likely to be engaged and use all of the available communications options if they can use devices with which they’re already familiar, rather than having to carry and learn to use multiple — and often vastly different — devices.
Alongside the idea of “bring your own device” is the ever-growing usage of mobile devices to complete tasks at work. Companies that embrace the desire of employees to work anywhere, anytime because of mobile devices will find employee engagement will rise. Offering an employee a desktop computer with an Ethernet cable still has its place, but it cannot be the only option any longer.
More Work Flexibility
Because of all of these options for communicating with employees and customers, employees will continue to demand more flexible working conditions. Companies that don’t offer working from home and working flex hours options will likely see less engaged employees in the next few years. Another benefit? An employee who’s allowed to leave work early to attend her child’s 4 p.m. football game almost certainly will be more willing to take care of a work emergency on a Saturday afternoon.
Employees need to know they matter, and keeping them engaged is a key component to acknowledging their value. Giving employees access to the latest technologies is one way to show them that they’re trusted and they matter. But companies that then use those new technologies to provide employees with plenty of flexibility to do their jobs efficiently will be the ones that have the happiest and most engaged employees.
Changes in technology and communications trends have been happening at a fast pace for several years. Such changes certainly won’t slow down in 2016. Tap into your employees’ knowledge about what types of technologies, social networking options, mobile devices, and communications they’re using in their everyday lives, and you’re sure to find options your employees can adapt to use in the business world too!
Author Bio: Mark Kirkpatrick is a blogger and tech enthusiast in Los Angeles, California. He has found that productivity starts with healthy habits, and hopes to help others achieve their goals through positive reinforcement. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.