During one of our Discovery engagements for an NHS customer, the IT Director exclaimed:
‘But people use technology at home all the time, why can’t they at work?’
We have our own ideas around this concept and we asked our Twitter followers to have their say too:
Consumer technology is different to corporate technology
Consumer technology is designed with the individual in mind; it’s simple, intuitive and user friendly and a pleasure to use. It’s designed to do a handful of things amazingly well. In comparison, technology we use in the workplace needs to be many things for many people. It fulfils a varying set of needs and either enables or supports complex processes. It can never be as simple as its consumer cousin. This concept is supported by our Twitter poll – 67% of respondents believe technology at home is easier than technology at work.
Corporate technology is also expensive; many organisations struggle with ageing infrastructure and outdated software. Our Meet Kelly video demonstrates this perfectly. Kelly uses technology successfully at home because it’s better than what’s available to her at work.
People have different pressures at work
Most of us use technology at work to facilitate our jobs, whether it be delivering patient care, executing an IT project or building a house. It’s not the mainstay of our job – it helps us do something. At work, we have many demands on our time – a manager needs a report, a customer needs a plan, a supplier needs a purchase order. We’re battling against the clock and our time may even be measured or monitored. We don’t have time to play and discover new features and how ‘best’ to do something – we do things the way we know how, in the shortest possible time. Time pressure is the number one thing that affects people’s ability to learn at work.
Technology at home benefits us directly
Using Facebook or Snapchat helps us keep in touch with our friends and family. It’s something we want to do, it’s fun and benefits us directly – we are self-driven to use it. Compare that to the prospect of tagging your documents in SharePoint or entering a new customer’s details on a CRM system. Such obligations are often mandated and it’s the organisation or your colleagues who experience the benefit rather than you. We’ve explored this idea before in ‘What’s in it for me?’.
Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we adopt it
Having access to technology at home doesn’t necessarily mean we use it. If we use it at all, we may only use a portion of the functionality available to us. We’ve probably all got someone in our family who has a Smartphone but only uses it to make phone calls. Our colleague, Emma, has remote controlled lighting at home, yet she overrides it with the light-switch; she is not interested in a different way of doing something she has done successfully for many years. Sometimes, even though we may have the time, we may not have the inclination to learn something new at home.
You’re braver at home
Doing something wrong with your home technology will only affect you and your immediate family. At work, people mostly want to do the right thing, they don’t want to do something wrong which will impact others, so they may become over cautious in using a feature, or not use it at all. Skype is a good example of this. It would be fine to struggle through a call with your Aunt in Australia and learn ‘on the fly’, but no-one wants to be in that situation in front of a bunch of colleagues or customers on a Skype online meeting.
In summary, the common influences in technology use at home and work are time, usability, desire and skills. We’ve seen many projects flounder where customers underestimate these issues – don’t buy into the software developer’s catchphrase, ‘it’s really intuitive’ – that is a death warrant to any project involving people. And most do.
If you found this insight useful, you might be interested in our previous insights.