People vs technology

Posted on 15 Aug 2022

People and technology are often thought to be clashing concepts. We perceive technology as taking the roles previously performed by people, and people as more logic driven, if less efficient, than technology. But despite this perceived conflict of interest, many workplaces in the UK are digital, and would no longer be able to operate without technology. So, can people and technology really work together successfully?

The technological workplace

Many workplaces here in the UK now rely on technology for their day-to-day operations. Whilst some roles remain traditionally people-faced, such as hospitality, catering, and construction, the majority of traditionally office-based roles are paper-free. They wouldn’t be able to operate if their laptops or central system were to crash and rely on IT teams and technology to keep them operating. This has developed rapidly over the past two years. Whilst the workplace was slowly transitioning into a digital space in the years leading up to 2020, the start of the pandemic saw this change accelerate. A switch to cloud-based technology enabled us to work from anywhere and share access to documents, online tools and processes, such as accounting software, removed the need for costly paper-based systems and made the process much more efficient. The transition to remote, and then for many, hybrid working environments further increased the need for remote access, digital communication tools, and deepened our reliance on technology. It was technology that enabled many businesses to survive during lockdown, proving perhaps that people and technology could be a perfect match.

Can people and technology work together successfully? Put simply, yes! But in order to do so processes and ideas that stem from an age of traditional, office-based work need to be updated. Figures collected by Udemy for their 2019/2020 Global Skills Gap Report found that 63-87% of IT professionals across five countries believe that the hard skills required for their jobs will change significantly within five years.

If organisations want people and technology to work together, they will need to move away from relying on one or two members of staff with hard skills, to a more “multifaceted, agile” team, who can adapt to new challenges. Technology is moving at such a speed that the hard skills which are considered essential now may soon be outdated, so in order to keep ahead of the curve, companies will need to change their focus.

Forbes stress the importance of strategy. Often what is perceived to be a human or technical error is actually and strategical one and could be remedied with a focus on creating a clear, focused, and streamlined strategy that starts at the top and feeds to all employees.

Ultimately, people and technology work best together when they understand each other. So it could be also be argued that the same time and investment should be spent on employee training as it is on new systems and processes.

The Impact on IT and Recruitment

If organisations are going to follow the model above and hire more people, their recruitment teams will certainly have to get to work. Despite the increased use and dependence on technology, the data skills gap is widening, so to attract the right people to their business, recruitment teams may need to invest in new strategies to increase their outreach or reflect internally on what they can offer. This will have a chain reaction effect for IT teams, who may also need to reflect on their structure and identify what skills they need moving forward. IT teams are invaluable, and are keeping many businesses online and secure, so their impact shouldn’t be understated, but in order to move forward there has to be clear communication between them and their employers.

What are your opinions on the relationship between people and technology? Do you think they can work together successfully? We’d love to hear your thoughts.