Developing Digital Dexterity in the Workplace

As I continue to write about new and emerging trends in the workplace, remote work contextualizes each topic. For instance, it’s what’s enabling the increasing globalization of work. As more and more workplaces adapt to remote work, technologies take center stage. It’s simply not possible to work efficiently in the modern age without managing a bunch of different technologies. The key to keeping up with the tech is cultivating digital dexterity. In this blog, I’ll describe the benefits of and pathways to developing this skill set for yourself and your organization.

Defining Digital Dexterity

To define the concept of digital dexterity, I looked to this article from Time Doctor. They define it as the ability to adapt to new technologies and software solutions to improve business processes. This is actually a very broad concept. For instance, I wrote a previous blog about using smartphones at work that already tapped into this idea. Many people view phones as distractions at work. It takes digital dexterity to figure out ways to utilize this technology to increase your productivity. (Consider those who use apps to manage their calendar and to-do list.) 

Of course, digital dexterity takes more than finding cool smartphone apps. As I wrote in my last blog post, artificial intelligence is making waves in the workforce. I’ve also written before about the advantages of automated workflow solutions. In short, to stay savvy, organizations and employees need to feel comfortable with an ever-changing array of technologies.

How can this become possible? It requires a combination of skill set and mindset. Employees need both know-how and confidence to utilize new technologies on the job. This HBR article also notes that ambition is a key ingredient of digital dexterity. You have to want to learn a new tool to use it well. Ultimately, digital dexterity is about being able to avoid digital friction, a concept outlined in this Forbes article. Most of us struggle to adapt to new technology at work when it takes extra effort to get used to it. We get frustrated and even experience burnout. By improving our digital dexterity, we can move away from that friction towards a smoother work experience.

Why Focus on Digital Dexterity?

Developing digital dexterity has obvious benefits for individuals, but why does it matter for an entire organization? Turns out, for a bunch of reasons. Time Doctor lists quite a few. First and foremost, these tools increase productivity. Software can automate repetitive tasks and streamline many business processes. This makes it easier to get more done faster. Similarly, teams collaborate more effectively when they rely on technology to centralize their work. Sharing knowledge and dividing up work becomes simpler with the use of the right tech. This Forbes article also points out that employees who lack confidence working with technology tools get frustrated faster at work. Consider all the extra resources needed to manage that frustration. Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to support employees with developing digital dexterity?

In the bigger picture, utilizing the right technology is also in line with developing business strategy. It’s a critical part of maintaining a competitive advantage in the market. As customers’ needs and expectations change, organizations need to use up-to-date technology to meet their demands. For instance, imagine an organization that can’t provide 24/7 access to customer service because of limited staff availability. A chatbot could improve customers’ experience without requiring people to work round the clock.

analyzing data visualizationsOn top of all this, the right technology improves an organization’s ability to gather, analyze, and act on valuable data. Many software solutions have built-in features that track key performance indicators (KPIs). Leaders can look at the data collected to inform their data-driven decision making. This means knowing more about what’s happening in the organization without lifting a finger. It also means that leaders’ decisions will be better targeted to meet the objective needs of the organization.

How to Build Your Organization’s Capacity

At this point, you’re likely convinced that it’s worth investing in developing digital dexterity. So how can your organization do this? This Forbes article suggests a few good places to start. First, identify processes and technologies that aren’t working well right now in your organization. Each department will have different needs at this point. For instance, the finance department might say they really need a way to automate the AP process

Once needs are identified, leaders will need to prioritize their budget. It takes an investment to support access to new technologies and the necessary training for them. This is the time to consider what’s most aligned with the current organizational strategy. What’s the biggest need? What can’t wait? In your search for new tech, look for tools that centralize work for teams. For example, Pyrus brings task management, communication, document sharing, and data analytics together in one seamless experience. That’s only one new tool to learn instead of a handful, each for a different function.

Once you’ve got the right technologies on board, support employees in adapting to them. Time Doctor lists several great ways to do this. First, provide professional development as needed to bring people’s skills up to speed. For new hires, be sure the onboarding process familiarizes them with any technology they’ll need to use regularly. Next, make sure the IT department can support employees when issues arise. Information about this technology should be added to the internal help desk. Finally, remember to address frustrations and challenges with empathy. It takes time to build the capacity for digital dexterity. Show employees that you trust their ability to learn new tech and harness its power effectively.

Developing Your Personal Dexterity

Regardless of how your organization incorporates digital tools, you can work on your own digital dexterity. This HBR article identifies five types of employees in how they approach technology. Which one are you most like? Consider what you need to feel more comfortable with the tools you use at work. Would you be comfortable embracing a new software if you thought it could make your work more efficient? Knowing where you’re at is the first step of increasing your skills.

Once you know how you personally relate to tech at work, set meaningful goals to develop your digital dexterity. If you’re tech savvy, consider leveraging this skill. Look for leadership and mentorship opportunities where you can share your knowledge with others. This is one great way to position yourself for promotions. If you’re feeling a little more shaky on your skills, reach out to others for support. Let your manager know what technology you’d like to learn more about. Hopefully, they can assign some tasks to you that will stretch your skills and help boost your confidence.

You can also single yourself out as a stellar employee by introducing a new technology to your organization. If you hear about a new software that solves a problem you’ve encountered at work, pitch it to a leader. (Remember these presentation skills when you do.) Instead of just getting ready for change, you can be part of making it happen. For example, how could you help your workplace move work forward by introducing them to Pyrus?