Technology’s Noise-Canceling Support for Teams

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For as long as technology has existed, some have viewed it in a “man vs. machines” context. Heart-wrenching tales would tell of hard-working employees replaced by mindless machines.

That has never been the primary relationship between technology and people in the workplace from my perspective as a leader. The best workplace technology has served as tools to help people do their jobs better, not to do their jobs for them. And at their best, they also reduce people’s stress while improving work-life balance.

For far too many employees, the workplace can become filled with blaring distractions. There is so much going on – so many things being demanded, so many concerns to think about, so many priorities to keep straight – people spend much of their workday just trying to deal with all the noise they experience. It may be mental rather than audible, but it’s noise nonetheless.

Workplace technology, at its best, should function like noise-canceling headphones or the nightly fan for the mental-noise employees have to deal with all day. 

The smartest employers have always understood this principle: You do best when you put your people in the best position to succeed. And that means giving your people powerful tools they can use to help them do their jobs. When you do this, you get the most out of your people while allowing them to have the best possible employment experience.

You’re canceling a lot of that noise

Recently we integrated transportation management software (TMS) into our systems, which helps us to process invoices and factor funds more quickly, for example. It uses a smart imaging and indexing system to organize and manage documents, which reduces manual back-office work and speeds inbound document processing. That means we can pay our carriers more quickly and with far fewer errors.

Our tech stack is not designed to get rid of our employees. Far from it. It’s designed to help our team do what we’re asking them to do, which is to process payments efficiently and accurately. 

Technology does all of that, but our people are still critical. They need to monitor the system and make sure it’s producing the needed outcomes. We can’t get that without them.

But there’s no sense in asking people to spend three minutes analyzing a piece of information that the technology can analyze in 15 seconds. That’s not a good use of their time or their talents. They can redeploy their efforts in more value-added ways, especially when they have such powerful technology tools to assist them.

A 2019 Forbes article cited research confirming that employees feel less stress as a result of well-deployed technology in the workplace. The article says 72 percent of those with low stress levels attribute this at least in part to workplace technology helping them do their jobs, and 64 percent of those surveyed agree that automation technology reduces both their workload and their work-related stress.

For that reason, 70 percent of those surveyed said they wanted more technology – not less – to replace their most menial work tasks. 

Crucially important here is the fact that 82 percent said they want technology to provide them with “the right information at the right time.”

That’s exactly where we believe automation should intersect with human efforts to help people produce more while feeling less stress.

I have talked to many employees who say they feel stress just trying to decide, at a given moment, where to put their focus. That might sound surprising to some, but in a busy company with many things going on, it can absolutely happen. They could probably ask their supervisors for direction, but people often prefer to get guidance on such questions from a technology tool that won’t look at them sideways for asking.

When it’s easy to decide what needs your attention, not only will you have a less stressful day at work, but you will have less stress to try to throw off before you go home.

By the way, for those of you whose employees interact directly with customers, how much do you think it would improve your customer relations to have your people feeling less stressed?

The best developers of workplace technology are the ones who have found ways to enhance the work experience, not try to replace the workers. No matter what happens in business, we will always need productive people. When we invest in the tools that help people fulfill that need, we not only help them, we also help our customers and ourselves.

 

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Athor Bio: Cody Harris is the ​​Data Strategy & Innovations Manager for Circle Logistics, one of the fastest-growing transportation companies in the nation, servicing over $700 million in freight spend. As a Top 50 Freight Brokerage Firm, Circle combines the dedication of a privately owned asset-based 3PL with the coverage of a public large-scale provider to create a superior modern freight experience. Circle is committed to delivering on three core promises to our customers: No Fail Service, Personalized Communication and Innovative Solutions and provides coverage across all modes of transportation in the continental United States and Mexico, including Dry Van, Flatbed, Reefer, LTL, Expedite, Oversize and Air. For more information, visit www.circledelivers.com.