Do you remember what the office was like before email? Before sharing memes in office group chats and furtively online shopping during conference calls was the norm? The reality is, the number of office workers who will ever recall a day without the instantaneous, anytime-anywhere connectivity we have today is rapidly decreasing.
In less than a century, drastic advancements in IT have arguably triggered one of the most impactful periods of evolution for humankind. It goes without saying that the way we create, share and consume data has entirely changed the way we live – and undoubtedly, the way we work. This unavoidable evolution means that the way your business adopts new technologies can no longer afford to be plodding and careful – but rather, must be strategic, proactive and executed with purpose.
Here are three ways the evolution of IT has changed our working lives:


The Customer Experience

Traditionally, businesses took an IT-centric approach to technology in the workplace – IT was removed from the customer and had little to do with purchasing behavior. But the buyer’s journey no longer begins with the radio advertisement and ends with the point-of-sale at your brick and mortar retail location.
Today, your customer’s journey could begin with, “Siri, find me the nearest optometrist,” and it may not end when they walk away with their new favourite pair of Ray-Bans®. Rather than a finite, one-time transaction, that buyer’s experience now lasts as long as your technology allows. Rapid advances in technology have forced businesses to reconsider their touchpoints: Where are my customers hearing about me? How am I connecting with them? How can I make our interactions as delightful as possible?
Increasingly, businesses are asking themselves these questions and shifting to a customer and business-centric approach so that consumers can interact in ways that they find convenient, however and whenever.


Employee Expectations

As the tools we use to communicate and collaborate with our coworkers develop, so too does workplace culture. The arrival of dynamic software that allows us to work faster, smarter and stay more connected – even when we are physically disconnected – continues to shift employee expectations.
This dramatic shift in culture can help to foster happy employees, but can also breed an always-on, hyper-connected environment, often leading to employee burnout.
On one end, collaborative technology like Microsoft Teams (included in the Office 365 suite) allows employees to work anytime-anywhere, reduce clutter and increase efficiencies – luxuries that are now becoming the standard expectation as more digital natives enter the workforce.
On the other hand, maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be problematic when our inbox is constantly at our fingertips. The epidemic of after-hours emails often compels employees to respond to the bombardment of messages into the late hours, contributing to burnout and ultimately hurting productivity.


Office Etiquette

Speaking of after-hours emails – where do we draw the line? The consumerization of IT has made virtually every function we perform in the office workplace accessible to us in our own homes. But where lies the line of appropriate office etiquette? Do you leave work at the door, or consider it appropriate to get caught up on your inbox over a smooth glass of Merlot at 10 p.m.?
The ease of access with modern technology has considerably impacted our expectations of workplace manners. Waiting longer than 48 hours to respond to an email? Appalling, some would say. Failing to get back to someone who has left a voicemail? Well, it depends who you ask. Millennials have been raised in a text-friendly culture, and most have little to no experience relaying messages over the phone.
As technology and our means of communication continue to advance, and the workplace generation gap widens, office etiquette becomes increasingly complex. This unavoidable evolution of tools, culture and expectations means that businesses must learn to proactively prepare and rapidly adapt.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
The expanding role of IT within business has naturally coincided with increased risk, complexity, cost and management overhead. IT done right can empower and enable a business; IT done wrong can hinder progress and diminish organizational effectiveness. IT needs to play a fundamentally different role – as a partner with the business, lock step in a purposed direction.