Reliance of Communicating Via Computer
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A quick glance around any workplace confirms that technology is essential to business. Computer systems can run assembly lines with a few operators to monitor and troubleshoot if the system goes offline. Every desk has a computer, equipped with the latest software for data management, communications, and job task completion. All this technology comes with a price. While using technology is critical to compete in today’s marketplace, there are disadvantages to consider in choosing the type and scope of use.
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In the next cubicle, John is conducting a job interview via Skype. Sue is walking through the office talking on her cell phone, and Carlos is into the second hour of his interactive webinar. Add these distractions to the normal noise of ringing phones, constant emails, and a noisy fax machine, and it’s no wonder that it’s sometimes hard to get work done. Technology demands attention. The time saving advantages are often outweighed by the constant distractions.
Loss of Interpersonal Communication Skills
Cell phones, email, texting and social media have largely replaced face-to-face communications. One short meeting or conversation can eliminate multiple text messages, phone calls or emails. The ability to choose the people you interact with, as on Facebook or Twitter, isn’t an option in the workplace, whether dealing with fellow workers or with clients. Interpersonal communications, critical to building business relationships, are more complicated and require courtesies and listening skills not necessary in social media. Too much reliance on electronic methods of communication not only can increase unnecessary traffic, but can decrease vital personal interaction.
Technology is constantly being improved, which requires constant and costly upgrading. Each upgrade requires employee training, taking time away from production. The loss of productivity combined with costs of software and implementation can reduce overall profitability. Each upgrade may also lower morale as employees struggle to learn new applications and to meet new performance standards. Once a system upgrade is completed, ongoing maintenance fees add to the overall cost. Since a breakdown of a system can halt the production of an employee, a department, or an entire plant, the cost of technical support or maintenance contracts are no longer optional.
Despite increased security efforts, there are always hacking risks from the outside and the internal threat of information theft from employees with security clearances. Many employees in staff positions need to have access to financial and personal data from customers and clients. Monitoring employees to protect the information can raise employee privacy issues. Securing passwords and access to information, and screening employees prior to issuing access are necessary challenges that add to company costs and jeopardize employee relations.
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* News-Leader: Being connected all the time has its drawbacks, Steve Koehler About the Author
Mary Nestor-Harper has more than 12 years as a human-resources director and more than 19 years experience as an HR/management consultant. She has been published in “Training Magazine,” “The Savannah Morning News” and on the Web. A television and radio business, career and motivation expert, she shares career and job search tips as Ageless Media Network’s career expert on WTKS-AM 1290, Savannah, Ga.