We are living in a world that is connected through technology. If we lose this connection, we tend to lose a lot, including our online existence. Nowadays, technology is taking over a huge part of our daily tasks, and with the Covid-19 pandemic it became essential in order to get things done properly. But could technology have a negative impact on quality culture?
What is Quality Culture?
Culture is the the "behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group." On the other hand, corporate culture is built by implementing common beliefs and behaviors to create a work environment that is engaging and tempting to work in, creating quality culture. Organizations work hard on building a culture of quality, now what is work culture?
It can be summed up under Four key concepts:
Communication is key for any successful teamwork, whether formal or informal, depending on the nature of the business. In creative agencies the communication is more informal, aiming to create a friendly atmosphere that facilitates creative ideas. While in banks for example it is very formal, it might be considered rude to send a work-related text on WhatsApp or any other social messaging tool.
As we mentioned in the introduction, technology is connecting the world, or any small group of people, or in our case, any team. Communication is becoming more virtual than face to face. What is most remarkable is that it is variating from a generation to another. Millennials for example, receive around 30 text messages per day while at work, which can, and most probably will, affect their performance and productivity. Why? Because when you see a notification on your screen, you just can’t ignore it!
What does this have to do with work culture? When the majority of the employees become millennials, it is crucial to put some rules concerning texting to improve efficiency, sure! But, technology can facilitate work and make it easier, it allows for more flexible work hours, and provides the ability to work remotely. Technology is helping in creating more culturally diverse workplaces, with teams spread across the continents, which directly impacts the work culture of an organization.
Work culture is also based on hierarchy, which by definition is the structure and number of ranks between an employee and the person with the highest level of authority. Therefore, it sets limits and boundaries between employees according to their rank, that can affect culture sometimes negatively. It can create a gap between employees and the management, and bring about a lack of communication. Technology on the other hand, brought down hierarchical barriers in the usage of collaborative apps. The CEO of a company might choose to participate in an Evernote conversation for example, and give direct feedback to a junior associate or vice versa. Through technology, the amount of information available only to upper management decreased, putting employees almost as much in the know as the executive team and promoting a greater sense of equality.
3- Work Ethics
It is defined as a belief in laboring diligently. An example of someone with work ethic is a person who gets to work on time every day and always works long days to get the job done.
Tech organizations such as google are known for their informal work places, and an employee friendly work experience. However, this is not the case of banks for example, employees are obliged to wear a particular dress code every day. It could be more helpful for a stress-free environment to have the possibility to work from home a day per week for a change! It is important for companies to promote a healthy work-life balance for a better employee experience, without losing ethics or lowering the productivity rate. For a culture of quality, technology can create a less stressful work experience and elevate the productivity.
4- Performance Management
It is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs once or twice a week ideally, to make sure that the strategic objectives of an organization are being accomplished. Work culture is built around this communication process that includes clarifying expectations, setting mutual objectives and goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.
Performance is managed through appraisal systems that are usually made face to face between and an employee and his manager. Although now, with technology, companies are moving towards a more casual appraisal system. It relies on centralized employee information and collaborative tools that make performance tracking and giving ongoing feedback easy, instead of waiting a year for performance reviews. As a result, employees will feel recognized for their hard work and rewarded constantly, which will increase performance and productivity, and create a culture of collaboration.
Human-centered Vs Technology-centered
To grow and guarantee its continuity, any business should be open to innovation and new technology, without losing interest in humans/employees and their needs for a better performance and work experience. Because an unhappy employee equals a failed work culture and a low organizational quality.
Millennials in particular, often express their need for continuous professional development and tend to search for employers that provide it. E-learning is a tech-tool that expands employees’ knowledge and skills, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction. This technology creates an empowering work environment that encourages employees and builds a loyal relationship between them and their organization.
Technology also boosts collaboration and facilitates team work. Collaboration software supports connections between all employees, and reduces frustration and unnecessary work repetition. By ensuring that all employees working on a same project are on the same page, even if they are not in the same place. This kind of communication encourages employees to voice their opinions and feel more engaged with their employer and more allied with their colleagues.
However, technology is creating a constant connection between employers and employees (a 24/7 kind of connection), in which employers tend to disrespect working hours and expect their employee to respond to messages and emails at all times. This can result in burnout and increase turnovers! Therefore, it is important to guarantee a work-life balance culture for employees in order to maintain a good work experience and high performance.
Organizations work hard on building a strong culture of quality, but not every employer is aware of the multitude of factors that can affect its culture in both positive and negative ways. That is why the choice of workplace technology can be beneficial and equally harmful for employees and employers, depending on their workplace and whether it is human-centered or technology-centered.
Corporate culture changes over the years, and is certainly affected by innovation, which is healthy for an organization. Implementing new techniques and methods will re-shape the existing corporate culture, but the key is to be able to enforce these changes without undermining the existing culture.