Technology has become a huge part of our everyday lives, both at work and at home. We do our shopping online, use apps to keep ourselves organized and rely on GPS to navigate our daily commute. What’s more, once we arrive at work, it seems like new tools are always emerging to help us perform our daily tasks.
While seemingly overwhelming, the growing presence of technology such as wireless devices in the workplace has proven invaluable in increasing productivity and improving efficiency. With the expanded use of these products comes some concern that not all users are at the same comfort level with technology. Whether or not investment in these devices and application is of value to an organization depends heavily on how successfully the transition takes place.
The Value of Adopting Trends
Anyone who has spent time in a healthcare facility can see the value of the technology in patient care, whether it’s by way of electronic recordkeeping or more efficient clinical alarm systems. However, technological advancements serve just as important a role in the maintenance management of those facilities. Many buildings currently are taking advantage of computer maintenance management software (CMMS) and radio-frequency identification tags for inventory to help streamline their process.
One of the most advantageous applications in technology for maintenance operations is the inclusion of a CMMS system. It can help improve communication among facility staff, allowing for better coordination of both preventive and corrective maintenance. A CMMS can also make it easier to pull up work history and provide other important documentation, allowing for easy situational assessment and decision-making. These two advantages contribute to increased efficiency, which can directly affect the bottom line. Simply put, if workers are spending less time and getting more done, that is time — and therefore money — saved.
The Importance of Coordination
While to some the advantages of adopting new technologies may seem obvious, others may still find it difficult to adapt to change. Often, new tech devices can appear cumbersome, needlessly expensive or a waste of time to those who are not familiar with the tool in question. While it may be tempting to adopt a “live and let live” attitude, the successful use and financial value of new technologies often depends on the full participation of everyone involved. Electronic medical records, for example, are only useful if everyone involved is consistent in adding and updating information. Without that consistency, the gaps in data reduce the overall effectiveness of the system. In order to maximize efficiency, effectiveness and resources, it is essential that facility managers take the time to bring everyone up to speed.
How to Make People Comfortable
The first thing facility managers will want to do when someone is resistant to new technology is emphasize all the potential benefits it may provide. Not only will it improve the facility’s operations and communication, but it will ultimately make their job easier. Even more effective than simply telling your staff about the benefit, is incorporating all staff into the evaluation process for new technology, thereby allowing everyone involved to feel as though they have a say in the change.
The next step involves delving a little deeper into the situation. If some are still resistant, you will want to find out exactly what the issue is and address it in a constructive manner. Generally, there are a few common hang-ups tech-averse people have. These include a fear of change, a feeling there is no time to learn or concern about making mistakes. Fortunately, all of these problems are easily addressable.
Anxiety Over the Unknown
Change can be scary, and the fear of being made obsolete by technology is a real one. However, facility managers should emphasize to their staff that the introduction of new technology is meant to improve operations, not to downsize. Including hesitant staff in the process can make them feel they are part of the change and the solution. It also will keep them focused on helping to achieve the desired outcome of the change, and it will help ease anxiety.
No Time to Learn
It is more likely that people do not take to new technology simply because of a lack of time to learn. Fortunately, the solution to this problem can be addressed in how facility managers choose to introduce technology. If time is limited, a thorough and gradual implementation plan is best, allowing staff to adjust to change through baby steps. For example, if your facility is switching to paperless work orders, allow the transition to happen over a period of time rather than ditching the printer right away. Have your staff enter work orders into the system as well as printing out paper copies until they are comfortable with the digital version.
In addition, find out who among your staff are the most tech-savvy. Rely on them to assist in the transition by helping others as well as advocating and encouraging the switch.
Afraid of Making a Mistake
It is often the case that staff worry about breaking something, entering something incorrectly or accidentally deleting a file. This fear often comes from a lack of understanding about how these applications work. A heavy emphasis on training and on-going support can ease these concerns. Facility managers should create a supportive environment and make it clear that mistakes aren’t just OK, they are a natural part of the transition.
When making the switch, facility managers should be mindful of different learning methods — visual, auditory and tactile — and plan accordingly. Visual learners retain information by reading or seeing. For these people, on-site training, online videos and demonstrations are most useful. Auditory learners remember by hearing and listening. For this group, phone calls, webinars and in-person demonstrations can be particularly effective. Tactile learners absorb information best through doing. After a demonstration, many tactile learners simply need time and repetition in order to learn a new skill. Many people possess a combination of these learning styles, so using a multifaceted approach may be best.
The key to adopting technologies is communication and inclusion. Facility managers may see the advantage in implementing new technology to improve efficiency, but it is their job to make sure that employees do too. Without buy-in from your staff, getting off the ground can be a challenge. Once everyone involved understands the goals, sees the benefits and knows the strategy for achieving those benefits, it is just a matter of time before there is increased comfort with the new technology. Patience, persistence, encouragement and assistance will help get your staff and your facility on board.
This article originally appeared in FacilityCare, Copyright 2014, Columbia Books.