The Impact of Technology on the Workplace

We’re all aware of the impact technology is having on our private lives, most people now have a smartphones and a large proportion have tablets and laptops too. There is an increasing buzz around screen time and how we manage our relationship with technology, at our recent HR Forum the experts from Birketts took delegates through how technology is impacting on the workplace and what you as employers can do about it.

We had three Senior Associates with us, Laura Brown, Jenny Leeder, and Kitty Rosser guiding delegates through a number of case studies involving the fictional character Sam Sung. Laura started by outlining the positives technology has on our lives such as computational accuracy and flexibility as well as risks such as data protection and working time issues. The majority of businesses in the room gave employees work phones and Laura highlighted that these pose an interesting question around working times as they give employees the flexibility to work from anywhere but also have the potential to encourage a blurring of lines between work and home life.

The case studies covered social media use both personally and professionally, mobile phone use, emails and data protection, and employee surveillance. It was suggested to delegates that even personal social media use can have a professional impact and that in order to protect themselves they should have a clear policy in place. Many delegates said that they would consider looking at a potential candidate’s social media channels prior to interviewing them, it was suggested that actually the best time to do this is after the first interview and that all staff should be trained on the relevant policies. On the subject of employee surveillance delegates were given a number of ways to protect themselves and things to consider including ensuring surveillance isn’t excessive and that clear boundaries are set. Finally delegates were given some examples of emerging technologies such as HR chatbots that could have an impact on their businesses. 

Delegates left with a number of action points such as reviewing current policies to ensure that they cover all technology and are fair and reasonable, providing training to staff which was a clear theme throughout the afternoon, the importance of consistency when enforcing policies, and making sure they’re aware of potential vicarious liability risks. Overall it was a really informative afternoon that raised some issues that you would not necessarily consider when discussing technology and the workplace.

Big thanks to Laura Brown, Jenny Leeder, and Kitty Rosser for leading the afternoon and Birketts for sponsoring. All slides from the HR Forum can be found here.

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