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Connected yet disconnected – contradiction of the modern world!
The presence of technology can be sensed in all aspects of our lives today. There are so many wonderful advantages of technology that now we would probably struggle to remember a time without technology. It has shrunk our world and allowed us to connect with people from across the globe in a matter of seconds. Albeit, conversations have today are evolving into a group of distracted people glued to their phones. I notice how with all the modern technologies right under our fingertips – we are all well connected and yet quite disconnected.
I recently was reading how successful organizations around the world are taking an extra step to bring their employees out of isolation. Google serves free food in cafeterias for its employees to encourage them to stay on campus and interact with their co-workers over lunch. With e-commerce and online shopping picking up rapidly amongst us, an American grocery company Albertson’s has decided to take all of the self-checkout lanes out of its stores in order to increase human contact.
No doubt, technology is here to stay but it’s subtly extinguishing the meaningfulness of face to face interactions with one another, slowly detaching us from the world around us and leading us towards isolation.
Yahoo made a controversial headline in 2013 for banning telecommuting for its employees. At that time, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said in a memo “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” Great move, I thought.
Technology has allowed us to collaborate with colleagues and clients regardless of their locations and time zones. The phrases “remote work” and “virtual teams” have become a part of work culture across many industries. Many organizations allow their employees to work remotely which under some circumstances is a relief. But when one sees their colleagues only through chat windows or calls it’s hard to develop a good bond and social fellowship. Interacting in person allows for increased eye contact, which builds trust and encourages group members to work together, brainstorm and co-create with their group.
It’s fascinating to read how Google is humanizing technology at its workplace. Almost every meeting held at Google makes use of the Hangout program to accommodate employees who are not able to attend, or who work in other locations. Despite having technology that connects people so well – and that their own company created – Google’s founders and top executives still prefer to make themselves available to their employees in person, once a week.
We cannot really ignore the fact that with the advancement of technology, working professionals are expected to be available around the clock. We don’t realise that we have become so consumed by technology that it has disconnected us from our personal time. France, in an effort to protect their worker’s private time, has passed a new law barring work e-mail after hours. That makes it mandatory for employees to spend quality time at home with family and then get back to work next day, to connect with their workmates. It’s a definite win-win.
Not long back, meetings were a vital part of our work life. Today ‘pinging’ over a message is now the most popular way to communicate in business and it’s easy to see why. True that it’s faster, convenient and saves a lot of time. But establishing a connection is important for any business, you get the opportunity to build a rapport with the key people which is much more effective in moving things forward, honestly. So while both techniques can co-exist, the essence would be to not drastically cut down on face to face interactions.
Certainly, it’s foolish to assume that we can live in a world without technology, and why should we? Technology makes our life easy – no denying there! However, we need to ensure that a balance is maintained and limits are set. While we maximize the abilities and benefits of these new communication technologies, let’s not forget to engage on a personal level because when technology takes over human interaction our ability to connect with others diminishes sooner or later.
To be connected we sometimes need to be disconnected.
Sakshi Singh – Marketing Executive, Ashnik
Sakshi is a Marketing executive working with Ashnik. She co-ordinates with Ashnik’s Principal Partners and Sales team to achieve effective Product Marketing Strategy for open source solutions and works toward a guided strategic marketing approach for the partners in South East Asia. She helps planning and executing event, webinars, tracking and reporting of individual events including ordering and post event invoice reconciliation and also conducts post-event evaluations in order to determine how future events could be improved.