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Chapter 7

Changing Technology

Advancing technology means the baseline requirement for employees’ computer competency is increasing, and will continue to increase in order for workers to stay competitive.

The tools that people use every day are changing—many workers use computers, iPads, or smartphones regularly in their work. As a result, one critical skill set for a worker seeking employment is comfort with technology.

Multitasking, while often controversial, is a skill that is increasingly sought by employers. From a technology perspective, toggling between different systems is essential to daily work. As businesses automate routine tasks, human talent is needed to bring together varied information systems required for organizational and operational effectiveness.

Of course, with so many resources invested in automation, one challenge businesses are facing today is how to keep automation from getting in the way of human interaction.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should.

Deon MacMillan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Ardent Mills

Meetings used to entail sitting in a conference room, chatting briefly about personal details, then getting to business and ending with a handshake. As video conferencing became more affordable, groups of workers would convene in conference rooms to call colleagues across the country. Now, the ubiquity of laptops and webcams allows people to attend meetings from their own cubicles or even at home.

A common but unintended consequence is that dozens of employees now sit in rows of cubes, staring at their screens and wearing headsets… but dialed into the same meeting. One big challenge for businesses is forcing face-to-face communications, which don’t happen as casually as they once did. The water cooler has become a cliché instead of an important gathering place.

Colorado is ahead of the curve on the telecommuting trend, with 6.9 percent of Colorado residents telecommuting full-time compared to 2.6 percent nationally.

Some companies have experimented with core hours, where all personnel must be in the office at the same time. Others have redesigned their offices to build long hallways where people can “accidentally-on-purpose” bump into each other while moving about. Some offices have even gone so far as to forbid coffee at desks, forcing break room gatherings for employees seeking a caffeine fix.

Clients want to be able to interact with us in multiple ways—not just in person. Different clients have different needs and we are customizing their experience to provide that. We need to find talent that understands how you make great customer experience happen with technology.

Vanessa Cruz, Senior Team Manager of Talent Acquisition, Charles Schwab

Customization of messaging is critical to ensuring that information is disseminated throughout an organization. As organizations become more mobile, and technology provides multiple channels for communication, sharing information often and repeatedly can ensure the greatest reach.

Although comfort with technology is important, employers say that today’s graduating students are too tied to their technologies. New employees aren’t as comfortable thinking outside the box, and they also aren’t as good at working with other people—a large gap when considering that many workplaces are driven by teams. But as automation increases and technology improves, the demand for workers lies in providing extraordinary customer service.