Exploring the Human Side of Tech Adoption

There’s little doubt we live in an increasingly tech-savvy society. But not everyone in the workplace is an early adopter of the latest apps and software. In fact, when Pew Research Center categorized individuals into a tech adoption spectrum, 52 percent considered themselves “relatively hesitant,” with 14 percent of those declaring themselves “unprepared.”

With this in mind, how do you encourage tech adoption in your organization? Is it best to try to change an employee’s habits? Or to set Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that permit people to adopt tech in the workforce—or not—at their own pace? If you decide it’s best to standardize your organization on the same platforms, how can you convince your teams to embrace “the new way” rather than resent it?

This is the human side of tech adoption. Understanding how to manage it is imperative and can help today’s HR professionals be more successful in today’s heavily tech-dependent marketplace.

First, Build Trust

There is definitely some apprehension when it comes to tech adoption. People believe robots or Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs will take over our jobs, which makes many leery of technology. While chatbots and other machine learning technology may seem creepy on the surface, the technology is really “more a tool than a replacement for jobs,” says Rob Light, an AI expert and research lead for G2 Crowd.

Employees need to understand how technology can help improve their productivity without making their skills obsolete. To help your workers, talk about the ways apps can save time, streamline communications, and even give people the freedom to work from home—or anywhere.

Integrate Technology Slowly

Some of your staff may be hesitant to learn the new skills required for digital transformation within the organization. Start slowly, perhaps introducing one or two productivity apps employees can use on their own mobile devices, before moving on to AI-based chatbots and other more sophisticated technology. Don’t be afraid to hire new talent with the skills necessary to help the rest of the team adapt to new tech.

Using an intranet system like Igloo Software, a digital destination that connects entire organizations, can dispel much of the confusion that often comes from employees using multiple different apps and solutions. Igloo integrates with your employees’ own apps. It also offers its own suite of tools for communication, collaboration, and file storage. Employees can access the intranet from any Internet-connected device, from their work computer to their tablets and smartphones. Using a centralized portal may encourage your teams to learn and adopt technology at their own pace, especially when they see what’s available within the solution.

Give Employees Choices in the Technology They Use

Giving people options when it comes to tech adoption can shorten the learning curve. But the use of many different apps can also create digital silos within your organization as well as compatibility and security issues. That’s why it’s useful to explore software solutions like those provided by Igloo. An intranet solution that allows for the seamless integration of third-party apps, as well as proprietary apps and widgets, makes it possible for your employees to access multiple solutions through one user interface from any place they might be working, whether that’s at home, on the road, or in the office.

Designate Training and Practice Time

It’s normal to become frustrated with tech adoption if you have to take time away from your regular duties to learn a new app. So, be proactive. Plan to counter this frustration by scheduling time for training and allowing for this time in your workflow by adjusting other deadlines. Offer various means of learning, including self-guided instruction through video tutorials or written material, as well as webinars or live training.

Harness the Human Side of Tech Adoption Through Digital Transformation

Over time your employees will become comfortable using the new processes and software. They will realize the time-saving benefits of tech in the workplace. And that’s when they will start considering themselves in the growing minority of “digitally-ready” employees who can help teach others and guide your organization into digital transformation.

When HR and IT teams work together on the human side of tech adoption, the entire organization benefits through the use of robust and easy-to-use tools that increase productivity and employee engagement.

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A version of this was first posted on

How Google Humanizes Technology In The Workplace And You Can, Too

The Internet turned 27 about 7 months ago, a milepost that commemorates the day Tim Berners-Lee proposed the creation of a new kind of “information management system,” and forever changed how we live and work.

That the Internet has enabled profound personal and organizational productivity gains since its launch is patently irrefutable. But at the same time, the Internet, along with its ever-growing progeny of applications, has an often unacknowledged dark side: Many of us have become overwhelmed by it.

“Technology challenges us to assert our human values, which means that, first of all, we have to figure out what they are.”
-Sherry Turkle

Believing it’s easier to communicate with people electronically, for example, we’ve stopped calling each other. According to MIT technology professor Sherry Turkle, we don’t even e-mail people anymore—”our communication of choice is texting.”

Perhaps because we’re uncertain of the expectation of our bosses, or simply we are seduced by the prospect of what may be awaiting us every time we go on line, many of us now check our cell phones 150 times a day. Trends like these not only suggest that we’re allowing technology to dehumanize us, our incessant connection distracts us from remaining present with other people, our work, and from sustaining any meaningful flow in our lives.

Using the occasion of the Internet’s silver anniversary as an inflection point, I reached out to Google Human Resources Director, Dr. Todd Carlisle, to see if his firm has learned to more successfully utilize and integrate technology and even re-humanize it in their workplace. Here are five of his most useful insights:


According to Carlisle, the Google employees who rely on one kind of communication—for example, texting or e-mailing—for everything and never meet with people in person tend to receive low engagement scores from their direct reports. Consequently, his guidance to managers is that they should be very thoughtful in determining the best way to communicate in every situation.

Carlisle says he does a calculation every time he needs to speak with someone: If the conversation is going to be a two-minute back and forth, then he’ll instant message them. If it’s going to be longer than that, he’ll instant message them to see if they have time to talk live. Then he must decide if it is better to speak on the phone or via a Google video-conferencing Hangout.

Carlisle insists that some messages are always best delivered in person, like sharing vision for the team, for example. Routinely being efficiency minded when communicating will inevitably backfire, he says. “So I think what we’re always talking about is, ‘What are you trying to get across—and what’s the best methodology?’”

One Google VP recently replaced his newsletter e-mail with a three-minute YouTube Video. According to Carlisle, “after surveying people afterwards, we saw employees had better recollection of it, and overall more positive feelings toward the organization.”


The day Carlisle and I met, he had an 8 p.m. meeting scheduled with a colleague in India; he told me directly that he had no intention of staying in the office until then. “I’ll go home, put my kids to bed, and then take the Hangout from my living room. And the person in India will be getting ready to go to work (8:30 a.m.), so he’s going to do the opposite. Before he takes his kids to school, he’ll go to a quiet place, and we’ll have our work meeting.”

Much has been written about Google’s penchant for workplace synchronicity—the notion that ideas get spread and enhanced via conversations employees have in the hallways and cafeterias. Nevertheless, the company makes no insistence that people are always in the office to take a meeting. “We care that people are happy and productive,” says Carlisle, “and we’re all trying to be flexible around the stuff that happens in life.”


Traditionally in business, an organization’s policies and procedures were crafted and communicated by people in a Human Resources department, a process that excluded much, if any, involvement with line employees. According to Carlisle, Google sees its workers as the true subject matter experts, and purposely makes great use of its shared document technology to eliminate all “top-downness from decision making.”

Recently, a group of individual contributors petitioned Carlisle to have their job titles revisited. Rather than take on the task himself, he challenged the team to brainstorm and produce the solution. Leveraging a suite of programs that enables people to collaboratively create documents and spreadsheets in real time, employees in Mountain View, India, and Dublin were able to post proposed titles, comment on what they liked and didn’t like, and evolve the discussion until the task was completed.

“I’m certain the team will feel much more empowered [and engaged] by the outcome,” says Carlisle, “because the new job titles weren’t just handed down from the management team. They did it bottom up.”


Almost every meeting held today at Google makes use of the Hangout program to accommodate employees unable to attend, or who work in other locations. Wherever they are, meeting attendees are able to use the camera on their phone or computer and talk face-to-face with every person participating.

Despite having technology that so powerfully and conveniently unites people—and that their own company created—Google’s founders and top executives have intentionally retained one old school element of leadership communication. Once a week, they make themselves available, live and in person, to Google headquarter employees (interactively beamed live to all other locations) in town hall meetings.

“This is not a high tech thing,” says Carlisle. “This is a leader prioritizing transparency thing.”


If you’ve ever checked e-mail after waking up at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom, or felt compelled to respond to a boss’s inquiry on a Saturday afternoon, it’s consoling to know that, at least at Google, people are giving thought to whether “always being on” is good for us or our organizations.

According to new research on work-life balance, most of us now approach our jobs in one of two ways—we’re either “Integrators” or “Segmentors.” And, one of these methods, it seems, has the clear leg up on sustaining long-term productivity and overall human effectiveness.

Segmentors come to work, do their job, and go after a demanding day. At that point they are done. They turn their work-brain off and turn on their personal-brain. And the work-brain goes back on at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.

Integrators will come home at night, do some personal things, do a little work, check e-mail before going to bed, and then again first thing in the morning. Integrators have looser boundaries between work and life.

Internal research shows that some people say they prefer to segment and some say they prefer to integrate. But regardless of preference is on this, the data shows Google employees are happier with their overall well-being when they segment.

One senior Google executive, someone who manages thousands of people in the organization, appears to be setting a more disciplined example. He’s conveyed to his employees that he checks e-mail only three times a day (an hour in the morning, an hour after lunch, and an hour in the evening) making himself more available to be present in all of his human interactions.

Carlisle told me at the end of our conversation that Google is trying to “use technology in the most positive way.” I believe him.

A version of this post was published on Fast Company.

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How to Use Tech to Reinforce Your Best Company Values

Technology offers great ways to connect and perform tasks more efficiently. Companies can also embrace technology as a way of increasing productivity among the staff and ensuring the workplace is a harmonious environment. Isn’t that the goal of every business? Here’s how working with tech can reinforce a company’s best values.

  1. Expanding Access to Data

Every skilled service person tells you there is a right tool for every job. In the workplace, the “tool” might simply be easy access to data. Some companies can get stingy with their data. Those companies that flourish will allow for a free flow of data amongst the managers and staff.

This is where cloud data storage can prove to be a valuable asset. By expanding access to the data to the workers, they won’t find themselves scrambling to come up with key data points for presentations and reports. This in turn creates a smoother day-to-day operation and bolsters the company’s profile.

  1. Allowing Work From Home

The moment kids enter into the equation, a home schedule goes from “normal” to “hectic” in no time flat. Workers often feel the tug of family commitments while on the job. That becomes a drain on productivity.

A company that promotes family values should also promote the family starting with its own workers. By allowing employees to work from home, a company creates a flexible schedule that puts family first. Thanks to high-speed internet access, there should never be an issue with slowing down access to communication between the employee and the company.

Use collaboration tools, such as Basecamp or Evernote, that allow everyone to have input on a project, no matter their location. This will show your dedication to working with your employees.

  1. Helping Support Promotion From Within

Companies welcome loyalty. This value often filters down to the customer level. It is achieved through promoting within in the company. After all, who is in a better position to know the inner workings of a company than the actual employee who has been working there?

Through its company website, Workday provides employees with profiles of coworkers along with current opportunities for advancement. It is a great way to supplement a human resources department by targeting the professionals who would be most qualified for the open positions. It could be the person you’re sitting next to at lunch.

  1. Sharing Your Company Story Through a Website

The best way for a company to reinforce its core values is through its own website. Although selling whatever product or service is important for a website, it is equally, if not more, important to share the company’s values, goals and history.

Every business has a history. Use it to tell your story so customers know where your business started and how you go where you are today.

  1. Offering Ongoing Employee Reviews

Every company can adapt software programs to help track employee progress. Typically, a company would conduct a review of a staff member on an annual basis. That’s a long time for an employee to find out if their work is appreciated. With these tracking programs, it will be easy to have regular evaluations on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. This helps keep the employee focused on improving their performance, and that in turn supports a company’s mission.

  1. Soliciting Feedback

The most efficient way to find out how a company is doing is asking the workers. This is a lesson that is often forgotten in the workplace. Managers should adopt an open forum where employees can provide feedback about the functions of their sector and the rest of the company.

The easiest way is to set up a private company bulletin board where workers can share their concerns. For larger companies, this type of technology can also help bring employees closer together. There might be entire divisions that have no clue how another division operates. Opening up those lines of communication will get the feedback flowing.

Reinforcing a company’s values through the use of technology begins at the workplace. Many tools can help get that job done with just a few clicks of the mouse.

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