Five Steps for Surviving Internet Speed

April 14, 2001
In an increasingly accelerated workplace, you must take control of technology:

  • Adopt technology that streamlines or simplifies. In many cases, it'sbetter to consolidate several processes or systems into one rather than embarkon the latest and greatest technology offering. Not only can that help a companymanage hardware and systems more effectively, but it also makes it easier forworkers to adapt and flourish. Yet certain types of projects, such as portalsand collaboration tools, can provide the biggest gains.

  • Never underestimate the ability of workers to embrace technology. Too often, companies assume that workers lag in the field oftechnology, when they're often out in front, says Jacques Leger, managing consultant at Watson WyattWorldwide, San Francisco. "As employees become more technologically adeptat home, they're transferring the knowledge to work." By making thetechnology leaders at a company your allies, it's possible to spread enthusiasmand acceptance.

  • Create policies and etiquette for using e-mail, voice mail, and othercollaborative systems. Employees should know, for example, when to mark amessage urgent, an acceptable time frame for replying orcalling back, and what's not allowed in e-mail, including sensitive HR data,jokes and chain letters, and banal comments.

  • Offer employees time-management training and provide work-life programs.Unfortunately, at many companies there's plenty of lip service about helpingemployees cope, but little action. Many employees who feel overwhelmed lack thetime-management and organizational skills required to function in the high-techworld. They allow themselves to be continually interrupted and suffer fromdecreased productivity.

    Most employees also benefit from job-sharing, telecommuting, flextime, and sabbatical programs. It's crucial to prevent work from becominginvasive, and to allow employees time to recharge. "Acompany has to create boundaries, or burnout ensues," says J. LeeWhittington, human resources management program director at the University ofDallas Graduate School of Management.

  • Create a management structure that can support a high-speed environment.If employees feel hindered by a bureaucratic and unwieldy management structure,they're likely to grow disillusioned, and many of the best workers experienceburnout or seek work elsewhere. It's particularly vital for fast-movingdepartments, divisions, and dot-com branches of a company to present proposalsto management for quicker and more responsive decision-making. As Leger pointsout, "If you wait for senior executives, it might never happen."

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