Why your workforce needs a confident digital culture

John Brett, Technical Operations Manager of Nexus Open Systems, discusses how businesses can foster technology confidence in the working environment

In the 21st century technology has become a ubiquitous part of modern workforces. Businesses are increasing their IT budgets and investing more in new IT designed to energise business performance and staff productivity. However, it seems not all employees feel quite so confident in their ability to use new technology at work.

61% of staff are anxious about new technologies at work, according to a study conducted by Microsoft, Goldsmiths, University of London, and YouGov. At the same time, only 23% of business were investing in cultural change programmes to help staff adjust to changing work practices and understand the value of technology investment. Low confidence and apprehension over digital changes is evidently impacting workforces, and with the rapid pace at which technology evolves this is not surprising. 61% of UK leaders also agree that alterations in tasks create anxiety among employees.

With this in mind, it is imperative that businesses implementing new hardware and programmes also focus on creating a confident digital culture at work. While thorough support and training are key elements in this transition, fostering a more positive mindset around technology is at the heart of this culture change. It is only then that companies will truly see the full benefits of their IT spend as staff positively engage with their technology.

Today’s workers are under pressure to possess the right IT skills and adjust quickly to different IT programmes, particularly with mounting fears over Artificial Intelligence (AI) and job automation. Such a task is made even harder when staff are accustomed to legacy systems and not supported in the transition by their companies. Equally, employees who are too connected with their technology can find themselves feeling more pressured. The rise of remote and agile working means individuals can create a work schedule which best suits their lifestyle, however the constant connection to the office through smart devices often makes it harder to switch-off, resulting in increased anxiety.

Digital anxiety can be detrimental for individual wellbeing and actually hinder employee productivity rather than increase it: 44% of workers mentioned technology issues as their top reason for lack of productivity.

How do businesses begin to build a supportive digital culture?

One of the recurring issues hindering positive digital adoption at work is training. Many companies might assume that their staff are happy with the technology they use, however the truth is frequently that workers have not had adequate training with even the fundamental systems they use on a daily basis. The key to putting IT fears to rest permanently is proper support and training. It can take time for staff to transition from legacy systems to new devices and software. Upon executing any new IT organisations should provide staff with individual training in the office to enact a real digital culture change. This initial training will not only enhance individual’s technology usage, but will be more cost-effective in the long-term as it reduces the need for calls to external technical support.

Staff will benefit from a personalised training experience where they can learn fundamental skills and ask questions freely. Organisations might consider training courses on their existing programs such as Office 365, helping to maximise engagement and enrich workers’ digital skills. Offering training to the company’s own IT Department with a Train the Trainer course is also indispensable when adopting different systems and equipping staff with a continuous support system.

Tailored training for each staff member will help to minimise skills shortages and enhance individuals’ confidence but it is also useful to highlight the value new IT applications will bring to the business. Educating your workforce on the benefits of the new technology through workshops and seminars will reinforce positive a positive digital philosophy and in particular support those who are struggling to transition from older technology.

For many employees the issue with new technology is not only in the application, but having the confidence to voice your worries or concerns. Therefore, opening a discussion around technology issues is certainly helpful in fostering a digital culture. Often individuals will feel inadequate when they cannot understand a new programme, for instance a new video-calling software, preventing them from asking for advice. Advocating communication around digital issues is vital for changing this mentality. The Deloitte Digital Disruption Index found that less than half of executives are confident in their own digital skills and ability to lead their organisation in the digital economy. If senior figures within a company have little faith in their technology ability, it becomes doubly hard for employees to have confidence in themselves. Starting a discourse around IT concerns and building up confidence must be embraced at each strata of the business and become a core part of the company’s ethos.

Before purchasing new IT, companies should also consider the needs of the end user and how that device might benefit their working day. 49% of workers waste an average of 10 minutes per hour in a median 35 hour week with technology that does not work. Purchasing the right IT which will simplify workloads and support collaboration is crucial to avoid a surplus of software which creates more problems than it solves. Each employee’s engagement with technology is different and this can be amplified in a multigenerational workforce. Appreciating everyone’s individual skills and avoiding unhelpful stereotypes will inspire greater confidence and effective collaboration.

Spending considerable amounts of time in front of screen can also slow down productivity and increase pressure for individuals. Encouraging staff to take breaks from their devices at work, such as a simple walk outside, will also see a great effect in individual wellbeing.

While installing new IT in your workplace can take a matter of days, the process of positive digital adoption will take slightly more time. It is essential that staff are fully supported in the technology shift both emotionally and with training programmes and a continuous support system. Encouraging staff questions, transparent conversations, and showing empathy towards the concerns and abilities of each employee will have a tangible impact on employee engagement. Organisations who take this holistic approach to a digital culture change will see more confident staff with a brighter outlook towards the future of technology.

About the Author

John Brett is the Technical Operations Manager of Nexus Open Systems, responsible for Nexus’ technology roadmap from business-critical software development, implementation and support to technical infrastructure support. He provides guidance and leadership to managers within the Technical Department to ensure the delivery of a high-quality service to clients, and to ensure effective delivery processes are in place to meet business needs.