Technology & Hidden Tensions in the Workplace

From jealousy to the App Guru there’s a surprising amount of hidden tension around technologies in the workplace. It can impact both morale and productivity in interesting ways. So what are some of these tensions?
The Tablet: iPads and Android tablets can spark hidden jealousies in an office. In work I’ve done, employees who use an iPad and sometimes a Surface are seen differently by co-workers who use a laptop or desktop. In part, tablets are seen as both elitist and social signal technologies as they aren’t common. Those that use them are seen having less drudge work requirements.
The Desktop: Interestingly, a desktop is considered to be the tool of an employee who is lower in corporate hierarchies as they are seen to be “fixed-in-place” and are likely to spend most of the day stuck in front of the monitor working with “older” technologies in the workplace.
Laptops: These devices are more common and growing rapidly. The assumption made of people who have a laptop is that they’re in the middle of the hierarchy and more mobile. They are also viewed as workers who are more likely to travel for work (this can spark jealousy) and one who takes work home.
Smartphones: Increasingly less companies provide smartphones for employees. But such devices can spark jealously in co-workers or assumptions about the importance of their role at work. They are “social signals” as well.
Factors that impact employee morale and views in a company as it relates to technology is who gets upgraded faster. Many companies use a waterfall approach where senior personnel and executives will hand-down their device to someone down the line.
So is all this really that important? That largely depends on corporate culture. It’s not enough to make employees quit (hopefully) and it’s not critical in most cases. But it can impact how employees view the company as a whole. It is one of many signals. In a business where a computing device is critical to productivity, it has a higher impact on employee views of a business and its culture. Just something to think about.
What are your thoughts?

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