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How to Strike a Balance Between Technology and Human Connection in the Workplace The balance between technology and human interaction in the workplace is crucial. As you navigate the fusion of technology and personal interaction in your workplace, find out how to make tech work for your team's human side, not just its productivity goals.

Key Takeaways

  • Over 90% of leaders acknowledge the vital role of technology in the workplace, but it's important to prioritize human needs and experiences when implementing and utilizing it.
  • Practical strategies for integrating technology with humanity include personalized communication, fostering informal interactions and open discussions about technology and its impact on individual roles.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Efficiency. Productivity. Metrics. These three words are often associated with technology in the workplace, and for good reason. According to the Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends survey, over 90% of business leaders acknowledge the imperative role of technology in enhancing work outcomes and team dynamics. Yet, for all their advantages, we must look at technological tools in the workplace from another perspective. That is, how will technology help us bring out the humanity in our day-to-day jobs?

This question isn't rhetorical. We can't afford to lose our humanness. Yes, we need technology, but only as an aid. Without living, breathing people, no organization can fully utilize any software, program or innovation.

These days, when technological advancements seem to happen every hour, far too many employers are forgetting the importance of putting people first — and consequently forgetting that when you take care of your employees, they will take care of everything else.

Employers need to begin folding humanity into their technology today. After all, in an era of remote and hybrid working, employee isolation and disengagement can happen quickly. Technology can either heighten feelings of loneliness and separation or bring workers together. It's up to us as leaders to put more emphasis on humans than machines.

Related: AI Can Replace (Some) Jobs — But It Can't Replace Human Connection. Here's Why.

Building a people-first, tech-positive culture

At the end of the day, the world is changing. However, tech isn't the only thing evolving; people are, too. People deserve to be seen as just as much of a sustainable investment as a piece of equipment or software.

Where can you begin to move the needle and find the intersection between your company's technology and your team's human connection? Look for places where you can lean into tech to enhance people's needs and experiences. This can look like the following:

1. Learn what makes each team member tick

Every team member has unique work style preferences. These are frequently more apparent when employees and leaders work side-by-side. However, they're not always as clear within virtual work groups. That's why all leaders should work diligently on developing genuine, mutually respectful relationships with their direct reports.

Take communication. Understanding each team member's unique communication preferences — from the format they prefer, such as emails, texts or voice memos, to how frequently they wish to be updated — is crucial in today's hybrid work environment. Companies like Humantelligence are leading the way by using technology to tailor communication strategies with AI-powered tools for more personalized communication within teams.

The point of this solution is that leaders have never been able to tailor their messaging to different employee personalities like they can right now. By being intentional, leaders can enjoy stronger bonds with their people and use technological solutions to help everyone become both efficient and effective.

Related: The Perfect Blend: How to Successfully Combine AI and Human Approaches to Business

2. Create space for old-fashioned "water cooler conversations"

Personal talk frequently goes by the wayside among remote teams. Rather than chalking this up to inevitability, create space at the beginning of Teams or Zoom meetings to discuss what's going on in everyone's lives. Setting aside five minutes of "family talk" to make way for 55 minutes of "business talk" is a decent trade-off. Or take a page from GitLab. They actively encourage new hires to schedule virtual coffee chats with colleagues during their onboarding to promote informal communication.

During one-on-ones, the talk can be just as personalized. Leaders should remember that each one-on-one is about the employee rather than them. Therefore, the dedicated agenda should concentrate on the employee, not the supervisor. Concentrating on the employee's needs fosters a two-way dialogue. It also puts some of the responsibility on the employee to guide the talking points.

Remember: Informal interactions can play critical roles in team and employee-leader bonding. These "water cooler conversations" don't always feel intuitive in a digital workspace, so they need to be intentionally allowed. For example, we use a lot of text chains around our company, especially around our events. Sometimes, things get silly, and jokes are made between a couple of people. It gets us off to a great week, and no one worries about the repercussions of not being single-mindedly production-focused.

Related: You Can Fear It and Still Use It — Why Are So Many American Workers Shy About AI?

3. Hold team sessions to talk about tech opportunities

Another technique to break down workplace barriers to team members living in sync with tech is to talk about digital transformation. Speaking about it allows everyone to chime in and build trust. This is especially important given that 54% of people say they have "no idea" how their company is using AI and that lack of transparency is a real problem. It highlights the necessity for clear communication about how technologies like AI are being utilized and their impact on individual roles.

Technology, especially newer disruptions like AI, can seem intimidating and scary. People can begin to worry that they'll be replaced if they don't operate 24/7. Your job is to show them that it's okay for them to be human. Take a walk. Leave the desk to run a personal errand. Catch up with a friend. Focus on outcomes versus time.

Machines don't need to take environmental breaks, but machines also aren't going to keep your company competitive. With the right platforms, portals, devices and channels, your human employees can complete their roles much more effectively without becoming beholden to the technology that serves them.

Picture your workplace as a puzzle. Your people make up the border pieces. Without them, you'd never have a complete picture, even if the inner space was filled with all the technology in the world.

Gloria St. Martin-Lowry

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

President of HPWP Group

Gloria St. Martin-Lowry is the president of HPWP Group, a company that promotes leadership and organizational development through positivity, coaching and problem-solving. HPWP is driven to create high-performing workplaces by partnering with courageous leaders who value team members’ contributions.

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