Does Your Workplace Technology Empower Employees?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on May 9, 2019

If you asked your employees to use one word to describe the technology they use in the workplace, how many would say “empowering”?

Frictionless workplace technology has the potential to create an environment where employees feel the sky’s the limit. Unfortunately, many employers don’t take advantage of this opportunity and instead force employees to use technology that actually makes their lives more difficult.

 Here’s how to ensure your workplace technology makes your employees feel like superheroes.

Why Empowering Technology Is So Important

To empower employees is to give them authority and control over their role in the company. That means providing them with the information, resources and tools they need to perform their job at the highest level. Once they have these things, they can be more productive and make confident decisions about how best to contribute to your organization.

Today’s employees expect the technology they use in the workplace to closely resemble the technology they use in their personal lives.

Unfortunately, at many organizations, that’s not the case.

A Unisys survey of 12,000 employees in 12 countries analyzed workplace technology and divided companies into two groups: technology leaders and technology laggards.

The survey found 58 percent of employees at “technology laggards” had negative feelings toward their employers. They were also more likely to use non-IT supported downloads, work-arounds or their own personal devices. In many cases, this meant working inefficiently and potentially introducing security risks to their organization.

What Does Empowering Workplace Technology Look Like?

Jesse Weaver, Director of the Entrepreneurial Design Studio at CU Boulder, said it best:

“Empowering products enhance our capability and our sense of agency without disrupting the rhythm of our lives.”

In the context of the workplace, that means technology should enable employees to be productive without interfering with their natural routine.

Empowering workplace technology eliminates endless back-and-forth email threads and makes it easy for employees to find what they need—whether it’s an available room, a person or an important package they’re waiting to receive.

A great example of empowering workplace technology is an employee experience (EX) mobile app. It’s designed specifically to provide employees with on-demand access to important information and give them more control over how they interact with the workplace.

In practical terms, that means:

  • Helping employees find coworkers and available workspaces
  • Allowing them to reserve rooms or equipment
  • Making it easy for them to request service
  • Allowing them to easily receive mail or visitors
  • Keeping them informed about company announcements and upcoming events
  • Integrating with other solutions so employees don’t have to remember multiple usernames and passwords

It’s giving employees exactly what they want—freedom and autonomy—without added complications or distractions.


How to Ensure Workplace Technology is Empowering

Technology is advancing faster than at any other time in history.

There are hundreds of new apps being introduced every single day. The software landscape is getting crowded.

Given all that, it’s tempting to introduce new technology in the workplace just for the sake of keeping up. And it can backfire quickly.

For instance, while 47 percent of CIOs surveyed by Forbes believe they are providing employees with the apps they want, only 24 percent of employees agree.

That’s why, as bestselling author Simon Sinek would say, it’s best to start with “why.”

That means before implementing any new technology, you need to consider:

  • Your organization’s overall strategy, mission, values and business objectives
  • What changes are driving the need for new technology
  • What you really need to effectively manage the workplace and workforce
  • How your current technology furthers company goals and how it falls short
  • The types of technology your workforce wants and needs

In other words, the best way to ensure your workplace technology is empowering your employees is to start by engaging them in the discussion.  


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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