Despite the promise of a technological revolution, the expected surge in productivity seems to have failed to materialise. Could the combination of psychology and office technology help us to unravel this conundrum?
This article on the BBC reveals we’re surrounded by computers, the internet, AI, and robotics, yet the economic data does not reflect the exponential improvements we were anticipating. The UK’s productivity growth, for instance, plummeted from 2.3% annually between 1974 and 2008 to a mere 0.5% from 2008 to 2020, with a recent decline of 0.6% in the first quarter of this year.
So, what’s the deal?
Psychology and Office Technology: Figures Explained
One possibility is that we are squandering the potential of technology by using it as a distraction from work. Social media, online videos, and mindless internet browsing might be consuming our time, leaving little room for productivity.
The situation may be more complex.
Two main explanations are being explored by economists. First, we might not be measuring the impact of technology correctly. Take the example of a company outsourcing its computer servers and IT department to an overseas provider.
While this efficient move boosts productivity, it may make the company look smaller in terms of measured economic growth.
Similarly, during the 19th-century industrial revolution, most data was focused on agriculture, while the pivotal changes in mines, railways, and cotton mills were largely overlooked.
Our lens for viewing the economy may still be fixated on the past, not capturing the transformative impact of today’s technological advances.
Psychology and Office Technology: Revolution is a Slow Burn
The second argument suggests that technological revolutions tend to be slow-burning affairs. Historical examples show that significant changes in economic performance actually took decades to unfold. The development of steam power and electricity are prime instances of slow yet profound transformations.
In the current digital age, the same might be happening.
The true benefits of the technological revolution could take time to emerge fully. Meanwhile, companies and countries that adeptly and swiftly embrace new technology will gain a competitive edge in the productivity race. It’s not merely about having the technology but using it skillfully and efficiently.
Dame Diane Coyle, an expert on productivity measurement, notes that companies with highly skilled employees who can leverage sophisticated software and adapt their processes are experiencing soaring productivity. Conversely, those unable to harness technology effectively lag behind. The technology itself isn’t the ultimate solution; rather, it’s about how well it’s utilised and harnessed.
That makes sense to us.
Psychology and Office Technology can Unlock the Productive Power of Office Technology
Octavius Black, a former management consultant and author, believes that the UK’s productivity crisis could be solved by tapping into psychology and giving managers better training.
Black argues that the UK’s productivity has been stagnant since the financial crisis of 2008, and that this is due to a number of factors, including:
- A lack of investment in training and development: Black believes that many UK businesses do not invest enough in training their employees, which leads to a lack of skills and knowledge. This, in turn, leads to lower productivity.
- A culture of fear and blame: Black argues that many UK workplaces are characterised by a culture of fear and blame, which discourages employees from taking risks and trying new things. This can also lead to lower productivity.
- A lack of trust: Black believes that many UK managers do not trust their employees, which leads to a lack of autonomy and empowerment. This can also lead to lower productivity.
Black proposes a number of solutions to the UK’s productivity crisis, including:
- Giving managers better training in psychology: Black believes that managers need to be trained in psychology so that they can understand the factors that motivate and demotivate employees. This will help them to create a more productive workplace.
- Creating a culture of trust and empowerment: Black argues that businesses need to create a culture of trust and empowerment where employees feel safe to take risks and try new things. This will help to unleash the potential of the workforce and lead to higher productivity.
- Investing in training and development: Black believes that businesses need to invest more in training and development so that employees can acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be productive.
- Black’s proposals are based on the idea that the UK’s productivity crisis is not just a technical problem but also a psychological one. He argues that by changing the way we think about work, we can create a more productive society.
While the promised technological revolution may not have translated into the immediate productivity surge we expected, it’s essential to recognise that genuine change takes time.
Companies must invest in developing their employees’ skills and proficiency with technology to truly capitalise on the productivity potential it holds. In this slow-burning revolution, those who master the art of using technology to their advantage will be the ultimate winners.
If you fear your office and document tech aren’t fuelling your productivity the way you hoped, the productivity geniuses at Evolve Document Solutions would love to talk.