Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Slow Train Coming: Our New Secret Double Lives

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 2:49 PM

click to enlarge slow.png
No, I'm not talking about all those cuddle parties all you A-types are hitting on the weekend: I'm talking about technology. Instead of corporations clamoring to stay on the cutting edge by testing out faster and better technology in the office, turns out it's now consumers who have the edge. You wake up on an alarm set on your iPhone and check your email in the a.m. on some badass new laptop, where you have unlimited email storage. Then you come to work--and suddenly you're slogging through the workday on an ancient model with throwback storage limits, the kind where it's faster to text your coworker for a quick response than emailing them and you especially can't even update the latest version of iTunes without permission. The WSJ has a terrific piece on the subject from yesterday, and it hits pretty close to home:
This is the double life many people lead: yesterday's technology for work, today's technology for everything else. The past decade has brought awesome innovations to the marketplace--Internet search, the iPhone, Twitter and so on--but consumers, not companies, embrace them first and with the most gusto. Even more galling, especially to tech-savvy workers, is the nanny-state attitude of employers who block access to Web sites, lock down PCs so users can't install software and force employees to use clunky programs. Sure, IT departments had legitimate concerns in the past. Employees would blindly open emails from persons unknown or visit shady Web sites, bringing in malicious software that could crash the network. Then there were cost issues: It was a lot cheaper to get one-size-fits-all packages of middling hardware and software than to let people choose what they wanted. But those arguments are getting weaker all the time. Companies now have an array of technologies at their disposal to give employees greater freedom without breaking the bank or laying out a welcome mat for hackers.
Of course, using Twitter and Facebook are free, so any company without their head in the sand has surely signed on to those networks. But it's true about the other stuff: With more folks facing expanded job duties--nearly all of which involve a computer, email and the Internet--it's more essential than ever to have the actual tools to get the job done. The rest of the piece is absolutely worth a read. It goes on to detail how this wasn't always the case, and how quickly changing technology up against a slowing economy means workers are becoming digital rogues--that should be Sarah Palin's book title on Second Life!--finding back-door ways to install the software or programs they need. And how progressive companies are embracing workers' choice and even letting some of them choose the technology they best need to get the job done--in come cases even giving them allowances to pick their own cellphones. Guess which one they picked?! The better you equip your employees, the more productive they become. Or at least the faster we can surf the Internet and get back to work.

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