Home' HR Monthly : August 2019 Contents August 2019 HRM magazine 17
n June this year Victorian education minister James Merlino
announced a ban on mobile phone use in the state’s public
schools. The purpose of the ban is to cut down on distraction
and cyberbullying, but it has split public opinion. Surprisingly, the
embattled government might find it has allies in Silicon Valley. Bill
Gates, former Microsoft CEO, refused to give his children mobiles
until they were teenagers. And current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, has
publicly said he doesn’t let his pre-teen nephew join social networks.
But it’s not just children people are worried about. Insider reports
have revealed the extent to which technology is deliberately designed
to be addicting to every user. A za Raskin, the creator of infinite
scrolling, has publicly stated he regrets his invention’s habit forming
effects. And research published in Social Issues and Policy Review
shows that passive use of social networking has a negative relationship
with subjective wellbeing.
It’s a growing concern for businesses. In the workplace, we can
spend our days responding to a constant stream of emails, reacting
involuntarily to smartphone notifications, and interacting with
digital systems ostensibly designed to make us more efficient. It’s
both a wellbeing and productivity issue. To achieve truly profound
innovation, deep thinking and uninterrupted workflows are required.
“The ability to get into a flow and to really concentrate and focus
comes with deep work,” says Dr K ristin Alford, director of MOD
(a future-focused museum) at UniSA, and HR professional. “This
is why at schools we’re seeing the questioning of technology-rich
environments. A nd in some workplaces, before a meeting, the
attendees’ smartphones are collected at the door or switched off.”
In 2018 a report titled Positive Technology: Designing Work
Environments For Digital Well-being was released by Deloitte
Insights. It outlined how workplace design might be reimagined in
order to ensure technology’s negatives don’t outweigh the positives.
As examples of the benefits of technology, the report highlighted
greater and borderless communication opportunities, potential
reductions of expense in terms of money and the environment, and
efficiencies that come with GPS systems, real-time translation services
and CRM systems that help with meeting customer expectations.
At the same time, particularly with highly distractive and
sometimes addictive aspects of the design, a wealth of technology can
cause a poverty of attention. The blurring of time between personal
and work lives results in a reduction in employee wellbeing as the
always-on nature of work causes greater stress and burnout.
“Technology benefits us in many ways when it comes to the
workplace. It has physically freed us from ou r desks, increasing
flex ibility,” says Jen Fisher, chief wellbeing officer for Deloitte US and
one of the authors of the report. “But it has also eliminated natu ral
breaks which would take place during the workday.”
In the past, when we left work, we couldn’t bring it home with us.
Then the home computer became common. But today, it’s not just
at home. Work is everywhere. On the train, in the park with our
children, at the beach while on holiday.
“We now have to intentionally create that space on our own, which
is hard to do because of the habit-forming design of technology,” says
Fisher. “And creating that space isn’t as simple as putting down your
phone, because we feel physiologically compelled to engage with it.
Even just the anticipation of getting an email outside of work hou rs
and the pressure to be responsive can cause anxiety and stress.”
Some think that the right technology can help. Aaron McEwan,
vice president, research & advisory at Gartner says that people in
their private lives interact effortlessly with virtual assistants, and
appreciate the algorithmic curation of services such as Netflix and
Spotify. But in the office, they’re constantly bombarded with emails,
they’re forced to use collaborative tools that continually distract, and
LOST IN THE
Our careers will be forevermore intertwined with machines.
So what responsibility does HR have in managing the
relationship between human talent and digital technology?
BY CHRIS SHEEDY
18/7/19 5:38 pm
Links Archive July 2019 September 2019 Navigation Previous Page Next Page