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Enhancing workplace productivity through technology deployment

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The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spotlight on technology as an enabler of work with many organisations turning to its use for flexible and remote working.
The circumstances have also revealed other issues such as productivity, work life balance, workforce engagement and wellbeing, which must all be considered when a new technology is introduced in the workplace.
 
Experts are of the view that taken together with the broader theme of increasing digitisation and technical advancement, organisations need to understand how workplace technology is impacting their workforce if they are to drive and support the best outcomes for their people and business.
 
They argued that with more jobs being augmented or created following the introduction of new technology, employers need to put Human Resource (HR) at the centre of technology implementation decisions.
 
For instance, a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), on, “The Workplace Technology: the Employee Experience,” explained how technology could be leveraged to improve productivity, employees’ experience and job quality.

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The report recommended that employees’ voices should be prioritised, and taken as internal advocates for the workforce in decisions about investment in new technology.
 
The Founder and Managing Director of SatNav Technologies, Amit Prasad, said in implementing new technological solutions and facilities management software, business leaders can ensure optimal profitability and productivity in their modern workplace.
 
Emphasising that impact of technology in the workplace is incredible, as it has changed the way traditional mode of offices, he said  it is up to the business leaders to keep up with its evolving pace in the most efficient manner, adding that  business owners cannot afford to compromise their company’s productivity, profitability, and security.
 
On adapting to the new workplace, Managing Director, Olivet Cloud Solutions, Chioma Chima, who spoke recently on acquiring relevant skills for the new normal for the future of work, organised by Majorwaves Energy Report, urged organisations to create an enabling environment for the workers by retaining and reskilling to fit into the new workforce.She said for the workers, skills are needed as the drivers are shifting to the new normal, even as the government should initiate more programmes to tilt to the new normal.
 
Similarly, Chairman, Board at Quantafuel ApS, Norway, Winifred Johansen, advised employees to have a new mind-set and attitude towards work. She said: “Be prepared; know your field, know your battle ground, and communicate with your team often. It is guerrilla warfare out there. It is hard work. It is an opportunity for you to win ethically. Digital transformation is key.”
 
With the evolution of automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other workplace technologies are bringing major changes to work and employment, and the very little influence HR, who is not involved in the operational delivery of technology change has over strategic decision-making processes relating to automation and AI, experts said, creates several risks.
 
They maintained that overemphasis on technology as a way to improve productivity, rather than improving people management practice and HR capability harms individuals, whose jobs and tasks may change or become redundant. Furthermore, the CIPD report said it is crucial for employers to put HR at the centre of technology implementation decisions, and to involve employees directly.
 
This, it stated, will ensure that employees have a meaningful voice on matters affecting them, including the ways in which their job roles could be augmented or changed by technology.
 
Where changes to roles are significant, it advised that employees must be supported throughout the transition – through effective people management as well as reskilling or up-skilling.

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It urged governments to continue to develop the industrial strategy with emphasis on encouraging employers to develop people capabilities that complement technology investment and boost productivity.
 
It also urged that labour market enforcement should be improved to ensure that people’s employment rights are not compromised during the introduction of new technology.
 
For employers, it recommended that they should consider how job design, organisational policies and processes, values and behaviours can be applied when designing, developing and delivering new technologies in the workplace.
 
It urged that they should involve employees in decisions on the design and implementation of new technologies that could augment or change their roles, as well as encouraging individuals to voice their concerns during one-to-one meetings.
 
“Provide training and support to employees in the lead-up to – and following – technological change. Consider the needs of diverse groups within the organisation when making decisions about how technology is used in the workplace. HR should show ethical leadership to ensure that these needs are respected,” it stated.
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