When I first blogged Exhaustion is a Major Barrier to Collaboration Adoption it was because of an internal reorganization. Our VP asked if we were feeling tired with all the changes that we were experiencing and showed the video. After watching it, I realized that whether it be concentrating on process changes or concentrating on how to use different technologies people become mentally exhausted when things are different.
This got me to thinking how sometimes a change in technology is rapidly adopted. I wrote about this in a second blog The Consumerization of IT Can Lead to Rapid Technology Adoption in which technology newly deployed by IT is just catching up to what consumers are using at home. Therefore, they don't have to think about using it and the mental exhaustion from change is not present.
Then I thought about how people are using certain collaboration technologies at home and when they come to work they have to use archaic means of collaboration. Even though they are very familiar with these older technologies, they still have to think about how to use them because they're no longer the norm. In other words, even though these business applications are "tried and true" they require a mental effort to use them. The tools are there for modern collaboration, but they're not available. It's as if you suddenly had to revert to using hand signals while driving. You're directional is there, but it does nothing. You have to be conscious to put your hand out the window and signal for left turn, right turn, slowing, and stopping. Would you remember to use your hand signals? Would you constantly flip the directional arm up or down only to be reminded that hand signals were necessary? Even though you know hand signals and how to use them, it's not so easy to do.
This is where productivity is lost. Your employees are using one set of technology at home. A set of collaboration technologies that are rich in experience. That are versatile. That are pervasive. A set of technologies that are available across devices from a laptop to a tablet to a mobile phone. It doesn't matter if it's instant messaging, information management, or video calling. People have these capabilities at home and when they come to the office they want them. Unfortunately, many times they have to remember they don't have them. They have to rethink how they collaborate at work compared to home. They know the technologies and tools, but they're different from the new norm. We learned through the study "Why Change Is So Hard" that mental capacity is finite. When people have to revert back to something that is older then the norm, they become exhausted and productivity drops.
You must understand what your people are using in their everyday life outside of work and put into action a plan to remain current with the norm for collaboration. You don't want to be so ahead of the curve you exhaust the majority of your people by challenging them when come into work, but you can't afford to be so far behind the curve they are exhausted by using outdated work tools. You have to have your finger on the pulse, but don't be afraid to survey your people to learn what tools they use most and are most comfortable with. The answers may surprise you.