Posted on July 11, 2014

How Technology Influences Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is a reflection of the senior leaders’ values and priorities, but it is often much more than that. It is, in essence, the personality of the company, the unwritten guiding principles. Culture can make or break a person’s experience at a company. They might fit very well with the culture and become part of “the tribe,” or they might fit poorly and flounder by failing to adapt to the company’s team and customs. Here are some reasons to be mindful about the ways technology becomes integrated into your company’s culture.

Challenges posed by technology in the workplace

There is a trend that recently started to come to the attention of executives and HR professionals alike called the “overwhelmed employee.” Because they are so connected with technology, employees are often asked to be thinking about work and connected 24/7/365. With more information available, employees are often under pressure not to be reactive or even proactive, but predictive in everything that they do. Two in three executives rated the overwhelmed employee as an “important” or “urgent” issue while less than half said they were ready to deal with it.

Laptops, tablets and phones have become an integral part of the work day and corporate culture. While just a few years ago they were seen as rude or unwelcomed intrusions in meetings, now they are often as integral to meetings as the participants; however, studies do show that one of the top interruptions in the work day is caused by social media. Employees have become uncertain how they should conduct themselves, so they take cues from others about what are acceptable technology practices. This employee consensus becomes a part of the culture that can become destructive during the business day.

Benefits of technology in the workplace

On the other hand, when used correctly, technology can improve productivity and organization. We no longer have to sort through stacks of paper documents and spreadsheets; instead all information is located in one central place. This is not only more efficient, but environmentally friendly as well.

Technology can help foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork. New programs have created spaces online to share ideas, create projects and track performance with people halfway across the world. Cloud-based computing has made information easily accessible, eliminating time and energy wasted on searching for data and creating a more well-organized and collaborative culture.

There is also a growing trend of remote work and flexible work schedules. This is a huge benefit to many, especially working parents. Employers who allow for flexible work scheduling see a decrease in absenteeism and employee turnover accompanied by an increase in morale and productivity.

Predictions for the future

We can certainly see how far technology has come, even in the last five or ten years. Here are some ways that technology might continue to make impacts on corporate culture and the business world:

* As Generations Y & Z enter the workforce, the idea of the office will become redefined. These new workers no longer associate tasks and places, so learning is not necessarily for the classroom, television for the family room, or meetings for the boardroom. As they start to outnumber the Baby Boomers and Generation X, the culture will have to shift to reflect their more virtual and mobile expectations.
* Based on the more mobile and digital nature of work, managers will have to reconsider the way that their employees are evaluated. Leaders are moving more towards outcomes-based evaluations almost like project management rather performance management. There is less emphasis on how things are done (coming to work and sitting at a desk 9 to 5); instead the focus is on the fact work is being done regardless of the methods behind it.
* With the advent of job-searching technology, especially LinkedIn, employees are more often adopting a culture of free-agency. This means that employees are interested in pursuing the best experience for themselves rather than staying loyal to a company that hasn’t lived up to expectations.
* Finally, there will be a continued increase in the sheer volume and pace of information. Companies will have to find ways to deal with Big Data, because currently most are unequipped to analyze what is out there.

Corporate culture is nebulous and hard to define, yet it can be the deciding factor in a person’s experience on the job. With the digital revolution, there is no doubt that technology will continue to be one of the driving factors in the culture of businesses to come. Check out this article on some of the pressures shaping the future of HR or learn about Paycor’s culture here.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 Report