The ubiquity of technology goes unquestioned and workplaces across the globe all have been incorporating technology into their employees’ lives to increase productivity – but is it all for naught?

Terms like ‘digital age’ and ‘digital culture’ are thrown around with wild abandon,. The ubiquity of technology cannot be denied, and the alarming pace at which it is developing is affecting everything from how democracy functions to how we travel.

Yet is it possible that the digital revolution hasn’t quite taken as well in the workplace? According to Microsoft’s latest research into digital culture in the office, workers might not be benefitting as much from increased integration of technology as one might assume.

“Knowing that digital transformation matters is one thing,” begins Microsoft’s latest report, ‘Digital culture: Your competitive advantage’ “Going about it in the right way is another”

The key results: no sense of digital culture?

Even with new, exciting, cutting-edge technologies at our fingertips, most of the 20,476 employees across 21 EU countries the tech giant surveyed (1,000 of which were in Ireland in the 25 – 44 age bracket) don’t feel like their organisation is embracing digital culture.

Only 16.2 pc of those surveyed say they feel like they use a high amount of technology on the job and feel like their organisation has a strong digital culture.

To have a strong digital culture is, in Microsoft’s view, a complex thing – it is not only about how much technology is used but whether employees feel that there are supporting conditions around the usage of technology. The conditions include training, access to information, manager promotion of tech adoption, and a clear strategic vision from leaders regarding technology’s transformative potential.

Irish companies that do have a strong digital culture profit from various benefits to morale and productivity: these firms have twice as many employees who feel productive, three times as many that feel innovative and four times as many feel that feel engaged.

Resulting sluggishness

A mere 11pc of Irish employees feel highly productive in their job and only 14pc feel highly engaged. Meanwhile, 90pc of employees report low innovation in their organisation.

Evidently, not embracing digital culture not only results in employees missing out on a multitude of aforementioned benefits, but it seems to engender a kind of sluggishness in the hearts of workers.

It seems that Irish workers are not alone in this – according to the report, “global productivity has stagnated” despite fast-arriving advances in digital tools.

Can you blame them? Living in the world we’re in, one characterised by rapid technological progress, arriving at work and seeing no attempt to ‘get with the times’, so to speak, isn’t exactly inspiring.

Possible explanations

The report concedes that this stagnation could just be a time delay – it takes a while for ecosystems, business or otherwise, to feel the effects of any large-scale change.

Yet it could also be that the emphasis on “bottom-line business results” is to blame (something we’ve discussed before), the report posits “The driver behind every company’s balance- sheet is its people; humans who need time to adapt to change.”

Additionally, many of the great benefits to increased technology in the workplace – such as the ability to work from home  – can become the detriment of workers if not handled properly. For example, flexible working hours can give way to a toxic “always on” culture which will, instead of increasing productivity, lead to burnout.

For more on this, check out the full report.


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