The Way We’re Working

Mar. 24, 2014 - Nancy

Technology – most of us rely on information stored in various devices not to mention the convenience of carrying a phone, camera, book, calculator, map, and flashlight in one handheld device.   We even start to take all of these functions for granted until something stops working.  I recently experienced this; first I noticed was my camera on my smart phone wouldn’t take pictures.  If I tried to take a photo, the screen would go black and then revert immediately to the home screen.  I thought this was odd, but I didn’t take the time to troubleshoot the issue.  Then, I couldn’t ignore that something must be wrong when all of my contacts and my calendar events went blank!  Yes, blank!  Luckily, turning the device off and back on often resets the function.  I tried this classic help-desk technique – Success!

I believe human beings are similar to our electronic devices; if we run them continuously, eventually something goes wrong.  Unfortunately, we do not come with a button to power off and reset, and we often ignore the warning signs.

How productive and effective are we when we work continuously?  In the book, “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” by Tony Schwartz et. al., a case is made that “we’re neglecting the four core needs that energize great performance:  sustainability (physical); security (emotional); self-expression (mental); and significance (spiritual).  Rather than running like computers at high speeds for long periods, we are at our best when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing our energy across each of our four needs.” So, while you might be putting in a lot of hours at work, how focused and productive are you?  When do you feel most creative, focused, and engaged?

Technology has fueled the pace of the modern workplace.  Data and information flow faster than ever and it often outpaces the mental and emotional capacity of the typical member of the workforce.  The negative effects on the individual and the team are so insidious that we often are unaware until significant problems become evident.  Disengagement, high turnover, decreased productivity and even a decline in profitability are some of the effects that might become evident to an organization.  As an individual, you may notice frustration, lack of energy, and changes in relationships to name a few.

While humans don’t come with a reset button, we do have the ability to change our habits over time and create cultures at work that acknowledge the needs of human beings.  This takes time, but it is an investment with tremendous returns.  Organizations usually recognize investing in technology as a necessity, but it is also imperative to invest in human beings!