Have you entered the dark side of technology adoption?

Help your employees so they don’t live in Onion Land*… 

Technology adoption is usually hailed as being positive; it means employees have embraced the technology you’ve given them to do their jobs. Yay! But, what if they’ve entered the dark side of technology adoption? Meaning, they’ve adopted technology outside of your work system to mingle and do their jobs… 

‘Whatever…’ you might say, and you may be thinking, good for them for being creative and going outside the box. However, as soon as your employees indulge in a bit of extra technology activity you’ve lost them to Onion Land – a community that is anonymous, uncensored and free. And, to be frank, with all that freedom who’d want to return to a monitored world of work technology?  

So, how do you help your employees to adopt work technology and not join Onion Land? 

Walk a mile in their shoes 

This expression exists for a reason – you can’t judge people’s behaviour until you’ve done their jobs, or really talked to them about why they are behaving in the way that they are. Take the time to chat to employees, to truly understand what Onion Land is offering that you’re not.  

When talking with our clients, and their employees, we find the most commonly adopted technologies outside the work system are WhatsApp and Google Docs. Both are amazing technologies, and there’s nothing dark about either of them, but they’re not always supported within the work IT environment. We also discover that employees shift to these technologies as they offer something their work technology doesn’t – quick and easy collaboration. People want to group chat, and share and work on documents at the same time.  

Employees typically switch to alternative technology with good intentions – to do a great job for their company. But, they are often unaware of the emotional and legal consequences of their behaviour. Also, they don’t get the risk they are inflicting on their organisation, especially reputationally.  

Don’t make them feel the heat, help them see the light 

WhatsApp is great for group chat, but what if that group can’t agree on something, the conversation becomes heated and someone gets bullied? Or people start using the group chat for inappropriate gossip, or to judge and abuse someone? You can’t monitor or track the digital conversation. However, if employees did this in Skype for Business Instant Messenger, their conversation would be recorded in their Outlook Conversation History. Likewise, private chats in Microsoft Teams can be viewed via admin eDiscovery. This deters inappropriate behaviour! 

Take Google Docs, which is renowned for its collaboration functionality. If this tool isn’t part of a company’s suite of technology but employees are using it for work purposes, they’re taking company IP outside of the system. If someone leaves the company, what process is applied to revoke access to these documents? There isn’t one, therefore creating data breaches. In this instance there’s no way to trace, monitor or manage the content.  

Using unsupported technology for work purposes can lead to employees feeling the heat – for breaking the law, violating company policy or causing emotional distress. You can’t stop everyone’s behaviour, but as an organisation you do have a duty to help your employees see the light regarding their technology usage.   

Keep IT policies current, and share and point employees to them frequently. Run a mini governance campaign on the potential consequences of using technology outside the work system. Nominate an executive to be the spokesperson of the campaign; provide line managers with key points and supporting content to help them to relay the message; and, develop an engaging microsite – or dedicated area on your intranet – to house content, which could include overviews, podcasts, videos, and so on.

Create an alternative so Onion Land becomes a dystopia  

Employees enter the dark side of technology adoption when they lack the tools to do their job, so offer a better alternative that makes them want to embrace your way of working. Take the time to investigate how your employees want to work so they can do their job more easily and get time back for them. Remember, there must be something in it for them to want to change!

Talk to peers in your industry or job function community. Learn about the technology their company is using; and, find out if they’ve had similar issues and how they dealt with them. Use the opportunity to review your IT estate, compare it to what’s out there and determine the type of investment you could make to improve your employees’ working lives. Review your current collateral that talks about the technology that employees should be using. Is it engaging, does it talk about the benefits of using the technology to the user? Read Bland versus Brand 

People adopt technology that makes their day easier. And, just like in life, if they believe there’s a better way than what is currently being offered to them, they’ll find it and embrace it instead.  

To prevent employees crossing the dark side to an uncensored community that puts your organisation at risk, have a chat with us to see how we can help!  

*People who want to be anonymous online hide their IP address using an ‘Onion Router’. Onion Land refers to the community of people who do this, so they can operate freely without censorship or being tracked.