Do digital tools make us more or less productive at work?


When I took a gander at this topic I quickly backtracked to a couple of years back when the cost of monitors descended and it became cost effective to have either a bigger screen or two screens. The efficiency increment in utilizing a double screen setup was and still is high, however the resistance you experienced when you initially attempted to persuade managers to the advantages was just as high. Most managers couldn’t move beyond what looked like a novelty. Fast forward to today and despite the clear empirical data to support dual screen advantages it never ceases to amaze me how many organisations are not adopting more efficient ways of working.

So coming back to the question at hand whether digital tools make us more productive, I would say the answer is it depends on the tool and the situation in question. How many times have you tried to use an automated service which is meant to make your life easier only to find the task takes twice as long and you end up resorting to a work round. Digital tools like any other tools, there are good and bad tools. There are tools for different tasks unfortunately far too often in the digital sphere people tend to use inappropriate tools. The saying to a man with a hammer every problem is a nail rings true. Together with the tools the right training is needed for the person using the tools. If we use an example of tools used in the building industry there is a plethora of tools and each one well suited to specific tasks, the same goes for the digital tools.

One of the issue with computerized instruments is the requirement for easy to understand interfaces, I have been in various associations especially the bigger associations which have a tendency to have a monstrous IT program that is intended to be everything to everybody this generally doesn’t work and has a tendency to ease off the mass dominant part of the workforce in that occasion such an instrument will make you less profitable. An accumulation of littler instruments that are appropriate to individual parts will have a tendency to make individuals more beneficial.

One of the problem with digital tools is the need for user friendly interfaces, I have been in a number of organisations particularly the larger organisations which tend to have a massive IT program that is meant to be everything to everyone this usually doesn’t work and tends to slow down the bulk majority of the workforce in that instance such a tool will make you less productive. A collection of smaller tools that are well suited to individual roles will tend to make people more productive.

An interesting look at this issue would be to evaluate what the uses of a particular tool are and what that tool is being used for. When I observe some people struggling with poorly designed systems sometimes I wonder at this rate wouldn’t it be faster not to use the system. While poorly designed systems can be a drag well designed tools can allow one to work much faster.

Digital tools cannot be viewed in isolation, working practises need to be factored into the equation, take email for instance there are those that respond to emails as soon as an email comes in so one would have an email client like outlook or mail running in the background and a snippet of email is displayed as soon as a message is received, this disrupts what one is doing while reading and responding to that email. This would slow the task at hand down. The alternative would be to check emails periodically. The tool is still the same but its being utilised in two different ways.

On the whole digital tools enhance productivity when the right tool is used for the right task and with better-designed interfaces the benefits can be great.


Written by Farayi Dzichauya, IT security