Technology: the backbone to an agile business place

Lisa Dumontier

Here at the Northern Sun News we’re constantly being overloaded with emails from various organizations promoting the “next big thing”. A lot of this is spam but often times I peruse the headlines just to make sure the information provided—be it a book review, a new funding program or recent released survey findings—cannot be utilised somewhere on our pages.

There are definite trends to the information received. In January for instance we saw a lot of weight loss and diet tips come across our desks and as the weeks have rolled into February, we’re seeing a lot of the latest and greatest in the technology world including info on how buying that new computer, smart phone or other electronic device will greatly increase our productivity.

One headline that grabbed my attention last week read “Stop Wasting Time in Meetings! Expert Offers Tips for Meetings that Get Things Done”. As a small office, we generally don’t hold formal meetings all that often. We meet in the halls during coffee breaks and discuss the upcoming paper, what type of content we’re looking at, our ad volume and any local happenings that may be on the agenda but in terms of actually sitting down to hash out a collective agreement, schedule time off or hand out office assignments, structured get-togethers are few and far between.

Despite this, the headline still caught my attention. How many times have you been in a hurry to rush through a meeting and tackle your next task of the day? With a lot of heads at the table it can also be difficult to stay on task and focus on the job at hand rather than discussing weekend plans or who beat who during the latest hockey game. According to the expert cited in this particular article, meetings “start late, run long, and don’t achieve much” but this can all be avoided by better utilizing technology.

Basically what is relayed in the article is that we need to be done with the face-to-face sit downs. We need to utilize conference calls, live broadcasts and teleconferences to make better use of our time and to ensure that our companies are better organized and set up for growth. This sitting down and actually getting to know your coworkers, discussing roadblocks and possible solutions in real time with real input, and developing a sense of what it means to be a part of a working, successful team is apparently a thing of the past. Move over people power, computers are taking over.

Maybe I’m being slightly dramatic. It may be 2012 but it’s not like we’re living in the “future” imagined in movies and sci-fi books just decades ago. We aren’t driving flying cars and we aren’t relying on robots to cook our breakfasts for us but I can’t help but feel overtaken by technology from time to time. Yes, ever improving technology does make our lives easier in so many ways but I can’t say I’m not concerned with this need to be connected—literally tapped into the world around us—every waking second of every single day.

Have fun with Facebook, Skype and your pint-sized handheld devices. Check your email 1,000 times per day and spark a conference call with an out-of-town co-worker so wet and slippery highways can be avoided. Make absolute use of technology wherever you can but don’t forget to sit down and talk to people once in a while too because as far as I can tell, it’s those connections to the outside world that ultimately make the difference at the end of a long hard day.

Letters to the Editor can be submitted via news@thenorthernsun.com

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