How to take advantage of technology to improve your company culture

Tim Medforth (SVP International and GM EMEA, Appirio, London, UK)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 8 February 2016



Medforth, T. (2016), "How to take advantage of technology to improve your company culture", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 15 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

How to take advantage of technology to improve your company culture

Article Type: e-HR From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 15, Issue 1

Tim Medforth

Tim Medforth is SVP, International and GM EMEA, Appirio, London, UK.

A strong business culture can be the defining factor which may make or break an organisation. Culture permeates all aspects of business, irrespective of whether it is an SME with a handful of workers, through to an enterprise organisation with thousands of employees distributed across the world. Get your company culture right and you breed an atmosphere of efficiency, collaboration and performance. Employee retention is high, and talent acquisition is easy. Get it wrong and it is a path to underperformance and weak growth.

There are many ways in which senior management can influence company culture, from the top-down ethos set out by the CEO, through to the benefits and perks rolled out by HR. This can be anything from flat management structures and open-plan offices to reward schemes and company away-days.

Traditionally, technology has not been seen as playing a major role in setting the tone for company culture – it has been viewed as a back-office function. However, driven by the consumerisation of IT and the rise of millennial workers in enterprise organisations, the quality, performance and user experience of corporate IT now matters in a significant way. It is important for businesses to see the correlation between the technology they give their employees and the customer experience they can then provide. Put simply, if a business keeps up with developments in technology, it will be in a better position to be more agile and responsive in today’s ever changing marketplace.

The correct use of technology and data can streamline business processes and free up time for the HR department so they can focus on crucial matters such as staff engagement and retention.

Think innovation

The choice of IT operating systems and platform defines how you want people to work and collaborate. If your system is outdated or old fashioned, it is likely that employee output will reflect this. In 2015, it is the time for businesses to throw in the towel on old working styles and habits that are no longer relevant, and try new things – embrace the new and the innovative.

New collaborative technologies such as cloud-based video conferencing, group messaging platforms and workspaces enable employees to work together in a more collective manner to achieve goals. Technologies like these help breed a culture of teamwork and collaboration which is beneficial to the business as a whole and its employees. The companies that are ahead of the competition embrace technology to help drive innovation and improve the worker and customer experience.

Embrace new business trends

A major business trend over the past few years has been the rise in flexible and remote working. In enterprise organisations, flexible working is often implemented to improve employee engagement and to promote a healthier work–life balance. As imagined, businesses that promote these initiatives are appealing to new staff in the digital age. This is demonstrated in our recent Future of Work report, which shows that the top three criteria IT staff look at when evaluating new job opportunities are a well-resourced IT department, up-to-date technology and flexibility. For SMEs and start-ups, remote working can also be a necessity to keep office rent and travel costs down.

For remote working to be successful, organisations must think about technology in new ways and implement BYOD (bring your own device) and BYOA (bring your own apps) procedures and practices. Employers are starting to realise that working is not a one-size-fits-all model. Employees want to be able to choose the devices and applications that work best for them personally. The companies that embrace these nuances and trust their employees to work in a way that suits them will help promote a healthier business culture.

Win in the cloud economy

Implementing a cloud-based solution such as Google Docs makes a statement about the type of company you want to be. Yes, it is a practical and cost-saving purchase, but more so it puts a line in the sand and allows the company to move away from how things were done in the past and embrace new practices and procedures. Keeping up with these kinds of developments in technology will set your business apart from the rest and help it to be seen as an innovative and forward-thinking organisation.

These simple changes in business processes help organisations to streamline activity which will impact their bottom-line, while making work simpler for employees. New cloud technology can often help employees and managers to process over 90 per cent of HR transactions on their own and in their own time using apps on the go, without the need to involve the HR department. Companies can also use cloud-based technology to capture information and data to help identify crucial talent-related business trends and understand whether their staff are happy.

By providing staff with consumer-grade technology, businesses are helping to promote a much simpler and more effective working experience. People want to work for businesses that are keeping up with technology and using it in a way that propels the company and its staff. A positive worker experience is the start to a positive customer experience; engaged workers are motivated to do their jobs well, which is reflected in the level of customer service they give, which of course directly impacts the business bottom line.

Corporate IT can become a positive metaphor for the business at large. It can be a statement of intent about where the company wants to be in the future and its strategic direction. On the flip side, get the transition wrong or choose the wrong technology solutions/partners and it can become a negative metaphor – and have a disastrous impact on the culture of the business.

The companies that are constantly looking to innovate, develop and keep an eye on new trends in technology and business will be the ones who will keep staff satisfied and remain ahead of the competition.