Technology and Workplace Culture

With our workplaces more technology-driven than ever, the decisions that managers and executives make regarding a nonprofit’s investments on technology are difficult. How much, how new, how efficient?

More and more, however, nuanced decisions are needed around technology’s impact on the culture and stress level of staff members.

Consider the following questions:

Does your staff have adequate tools to do their jobs?

Do we expect builders to reuse old nails or a hammer with a broken handle?

When staff members waste large blocks of time waiting for software to load, using work arounds for hardware that doesn’t function or routinely lose work because of glitchy tech – it’s hard for them to feel good about the workday.

Solution: Develop an equipment life-cycle plan.  Document your equipment deployment dates and warranty information, and then plan for (and budget for) replacing equipment as it reaches its end of life.

With the availability of e-mail on phones, text messaging, and social media – are you expecting your staff members to be available 24/7/365? 

A recent trend coming to the attention of executives and HR professionals is the “overwhelmed employee.”  With availability 24/7/365, staff members often feel pressure to be not only proactive – but predictive in their work.  If your workplace culture has an expectation of response after hours or whether the staff member is on vacation, you may be paving the way for overwhelmed, burned out, and discouraged staff.

Solution: Providing a clear mobile policy can go a long way in setting solid expectations and mitigating turnover.

Is social media use frowned upon, encouraged or not addressed in your policies and culture?

Social media can be a black hole where daily productivity goes to hide.  Individuals may resent that their colleagues spend time on social media (even if it’s part of their job descriptions), while others may take advantage of a lack of a policy.

Solution: Create a clear and concise policy around acceptable social media use.


Do you use technology to create benefits for your staff or is it a stress creation tool?

The benefits of the tech savvy workplace are many.  The ability to collaborate with colleagues in the next office or the next continent with ease; the ability to search for forms, items and records without pilfering through stacks of paper and boxes of files, flexible work schedules.

Solution: The secret to a workplace that uses technology as a tool rather than weapon is to be mindful of the way people and technology interact.


The following aren’t new ideas but a reminder that thoughtful consideration can embrace the future:

Set boundaries

Encourage staff to set boundaries and be clear about the organization’s expectations.  Some staff members might work late or use flexible hours, but is everyone required to respond immediately?  Make sure everyone understands what is expected – and the policy is reasonable!

Establish acceptable use policies

Acceptable use policies are a must have in the technological age.  If your staff has his or her own smart phone, does the policy allow him or her to have company e-mail on it?  Can they access organizational data?

Templates for mobile device policies, and social media policies are readily available. Net Standard has some good guidelines to reference:

If management doesn’t set the tone for acceptable use, tribal policies will prevail and that may not be in the best interest of your organization’s culture or future.

Get input from staff on equipment needs

Small changes can make a large difference to an individual, and just the act of asking for input (and taking it to heart) will make a staff member feel respected and valued.

Technology is now pervasive in and out of the workplace, and employers need to mindful of how employees are using it.  Arbitrary limitations (blocking sites) won’t work as well as clear policies and standards that staff members understand and agree to abide by.  Also remember that technology tools are tools and need to be maintained and/ replaced as they age.

Finally, as an executive or manager of your organization, you don’t have to understand and do all of technology on your own.  Empower your supervisors, your IT department or find a resource to help in this critical area.

Teddie Linder is the Operations Manager for Netlink, Inc.  She has over 20 years experience in helping businesses use technology to accomplish their strategic goals.

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