Is Your Workplace Digital Divide Creating “Access Agony”?

Digital Divide Access Agony

Access Agony. As discussed in part one of this discussion, having a workplace digital divide creates, “Access Agony1”. We have all felt ‘access agony” at some point in our careers, and is defined as employees being burdened with the following:

  • Legacy applications/programs
  • Slow technology
  • Limited devices, lack of BYOD (bring your own device) programs
  • Blocked access to critical functions

How does “access agony” impact the workplace digital divide? In short, “access agony” creates additional hardships to employees which then create pain-points, preventing productivity. Consider this:

  • When 71% of your employees must create work-around solutions for antiquated technology, a productivity issue is sure to follow.
  • When 35% download additional software to their PCs in hopes it will help them do their jobs quicker and smarter there may be a security issue.
  • When 45% of your workforce feels as though their devices are outdated and have to use their personal devices instead, there is an engagement issue.

The Data Doesn’t Lie

The following data from a 2017 Gallup report makes it clear that overall KPI (key performance indicators) results suffer in organizations that experience a workplace digital divide.

  • 30% state the lack of interconnectivity between software prevents them from doing their work efficiently.
  • 28% state the lack of access to programs that are important to their work prevents them from doing their job in a quality and timely manner.
  • 27% state the lack of up-to-date technology slows them down.
  • 20% of employees report using 3 or more devices at work to get the job done.

What does this say about giving your team the ability to work smarter, better, faster? There is clearly a pattern of employees being so frustrated with the organizational technology that they are creating their own bespoke solutions to get the job done – with or without approval. This likely creates actively disengaged employees which cost the US $583 – $605 billion in lost productivity. What is it costing your organization?

What is L&D’s Role in Workplace Digital Divide?

Step 1: Raise the “Tech IQ2“of your organization to create a culture of technology acceptance

As with most things culture-driven, education brings knowledge and acceptance. Building your “tech IQ” means starting from the top, educating leadership through data, and using cross-department partnerships to gain an understanding of an organization’s capabilities to shift the mindset.

  • Do this by helping business leaders understand what they should be exploring. They cannot be curious if they don’t know what to be curious about…start with framestorming sessions and use-cases to build a foundation of technology curiosity and intelligence.
  • Take inventory of the employee’s journey. How do they use (or not use) current legacy apps and tools? How do they want to use these tools? Identify all frustration points and bring leadership into the conversation.

Step 2: Build a North Star connection to people

Your technical and digital strategy must first begin with the end in mind. How can we first help people to help the business? To do this, there are a few areas to address.

  • Fact: People will be afraid of technology. Some fear technology may take over their jobs or job roles. Help them to understand that technology may supplant some of the tasks we do, but not necessarily erase the actual jobs we have.
  • Create quick wins to display the critical advantage that bridging the divide will have. Create your hypothesis about the creative methods technology can support that help people work smarter, better, faster to create business results.
  • Share data around the technology growth and success in order to show proof of concept.
  • Using the results of your hypothesis and with the knowledge gained from your data, create a pilot. Something small to take your proof of concept to the next logical step.

Step 3: Create a mindset of community and collaboration

Strong community ties with frequent social interactions (even remotely) with co-workers provide opportunities to experiment, collaborate and share experiences. Additional benefits reach deep and wide across organizations:

  • Create access to tools, apps, and up-to-date devices to take the handcuffs off people and allow for freer, more productive (innovated) thinking.
  • Employees with broad cross-department access can help solve the problems of tomorrow because they see the problems coming.
  • By creating broader and wider communities and connections, we create an organizational ecosystem. Where if one part falters the others are there to keep the momentum going.

Important Questions L&D Should be Asking

L&D has an opportunity to have a role in empowering the workplace to bridge the workplace digital divide. Here are some questions to unlock this opportunity:

  • Do you know the employee journey?
  • Do you know what technology or systems employees have access to or not have access to?
  • Is L&D consciously (or unconsciously) limiting access to important connections and tools based on unfounded reasons?
  • What decisions or actions can you influence? What bridges can you build across the organization?
  • Do you know business KPIs? How your organization makes money? Do you understand the delicate business ecosystem?

Forward-thinking organizations consider the overall business gains for building a strong digital strategy. By eliminating the workplace digital divide, bottom-line results will directly impact better connections, promotion of innovation, and strengthening the community ties. The results of a smart and people-first technology design and processes encourage working smarter and better. Because as we know, people can only be as good as who they’re working with and the tools they use to get the job done.

Is your organization creating access agony or being a technology leader with an eye to the future?

Originally written for Go1


[1 & 2] IBM global Technology Report, 2018

Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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