The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

The Office Snitch: Too cool for tech

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I may be a Gen Y but I’m not the biggest fan of technology.

Until I switched to my current super, super smart phone, I was using a thick planner to track my appointments and maintain a to-do list. Today, as soon as I wake up, my phone is ready to tell me who I’m supposed to be meeting with, what we’re meant to discuss and  what time my dinner reservations are.

Yes, occasionally I feel like I need my phone surgically removed from my hand, but I am of the opinion that technology, while aiding communication in ways previously unimaginable, is actually driving us further apart as people.

This epiphany hit me the other day when I was texting my sister… from the other room. I could actually see her sitting at her desk, tapping furiously into her phone, when that conversation could have easily taken place face-to-face.

In our office, we communicate primarily over Skype. It’s a great way to log conversations, have a team meeting and chat with our colleagues based in our regional offices.

But to be honest, I get upset – violently sometimes – when someone sitting two, nay, one desk away insists on having a conversation with me over Skype. Is it too much to ask for to have someone pop their head over our low desk partitions to ask me where we’re going for lunch or that there’s a package for me at the lobby?

This phenomenon of chat over talk is happening everywhere. People are on their phones at dinner tables, while on dates, in the middle of that extremely boring budget meeting and even on the toilet (“ttyl, taking a pee”).

Which all begs the question: Is our dependency on technology starting to get just a little bit overboard?

Here are my propositions.

If you, like me, use some sort on IM to chat with colleagues, you are to stop for at least three days. If the person you need to talk to is sitting a couple of feet away, just get up and talk.

I don’t know about you, but there have been so many times where the most exciting and hilarious conversation is happening on Skype amongst my team members, but when I look up, the office is quiet, all I hear is typing and their blank faces are staring intently at their screens. What happened to the “LOLs” and “(facepalm)” emoticons I was promised?

The other thing I would like you to try out is not checking your phone every three seconds – especially if you’re in a meeting. It is not only distracting; it’s disrespectful towards your peers.

And feel free to take this habit out of your personal lives as well. You’re attached to your partner/children/friends, not your phones or tablets. Work-life balance starts with ditching the phone at dinner, people. It’s as simple as that.

Lastly, try a phone call once in a while. Emailing is great – it is, after all, how Harry met Sally – and it’s done a fantastic job of getting information over to someone almost immediately, but getting five one-liner emails in a row to clarify something is highly interrupting.

Personally, I like to have a 10 minute chat over the phone, bang out the details and clarify whatever it is I need to, and follow up with an email summarising the call so everyone has an action plan or is up to date.

Technology is still something relatively new to us, but with the new generation highly adapt to life online (I’ve seen kids who are better at navigating an iPad than they are at walking), companies need boundaries and a culture that till promotes traditional interaction.

So get on this mini tech detox and help make sure we’re still very far off from me writing for a magazine called “Robot Resources” rather than Human Resources.

PS: Check out today’s Bizarre HR. That guy knows what I’m talking about.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

October 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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