There are lots of articles out there about how to identify toxic coworkers and how to deal with such individuals, but what about office technology? Can't it be toxic too?
Yes, it can. Just like how toxic individuals in the workplace can bring down office morale, reduce productivity, increase workplace stress and essentially poison the atmosphere of a workplace, so can malfunctioning or non-functioning technology.
This is why you want to identify toxic technology before it becomes a real problem.
Here is how to tell if one or more of your office technology devices is toxic.
Your technology seems to purposely ignore you
Consistently, when you ask it do something, to print a report for example, and you politely push all the right buttons, and even give it a fresh stack paper, but what do you get? The silent treatment. The copier ignores you and acts as if you never asked it to do anything at all.
You check to see if it is plugged in and powered on. It is. It's just being a jerk, as usual. Life is too short to deal with bad technology. It's time to do something about it.
For your technology, every day is a bad day
Devices, much like people, have their off days … and that’s okay. But when every day is their off day, you’ve got a problem. If on a regular basis you and your coworkers request it to do simple tasks like make copies, and all you get is cursing (judging by all if the beeping), flashing lights and error messages, even after many meetings with the Technician, it might be time to replace said device.
Your technology tries to take over another device's job
Sure, you probably don’t mind when a coworker with experience and skills in your work gives you a hand. But it's beyond frustrating when someone with little to no knowledge or experience of what you do tries to do your work for you, especially when they can't even do their own jobs well.
The same is true for a copier, for example. It’s supposed to make copies, right? Nope. It's not a copier. It’s a shredder — and a trash compacter — all in one. But of course, it doesn’t even do that well. It takes papers, runs them through and crumples them up and tears them into many folded and accordianed pieces.
Such machines make people angry. Worklife can be stressful enough without technology making it worse.
Your technology is painfully slow
You’ve got 20 copies of a 10-page report to print and you need it before the board meeting. You hit “print” on your computer and eventually you hear the printer in the distance hum, sputter and whirr, followed by a symphony of electronic noises, and finally the sound of the ink jet head sludging back and forth, grudgingly laying down the ink in long, slow motions, producing something like two pages a minute.
You get to wondering why this thing is called an “ink jet” as there is nothing jet-like about this thing! It’s more like an ink sloth than anything.
It’s time to replace this jet with newer, faster, cheaper technology that will get you your reports in a minute or two — not in half an hour.
It joins or maybe even organizes office strikes
You come in to the office on Monday (well, it seems to happen mostly on Mondays) and your computer, printer, document scanner, your server and … well, your whole network, seem to go on the fritz. And it happens all. The. Time. Coincidence? It’s probably not. One or all of your technology is in on it and probably needs the boot, not another reboot.
Your technology plays favorites
You plop into your desk chair, pop your laptop, click open your browser to check your webmail ... only to discover no webpages are developing. You check your WiFi connection and discover that though you've connected to this network hundreds of times before, it is rejecting you, again.
Judging by the sound of a YouTube compilation of horrendous pre-game "Star Spangled Banner" solos playing from your neighbor's cubicle, punctuated by his occasional laughter ... well, the Wifi is clearly working for him.
That's annoying ... and we're not even talking about the horridly off notes streaming from your coworker's desk. It might be time to get someone to take a look at that and get your WiFi to share the love ... equally.
Well, those are a handful of signs, most of them written in jest with some truth. Hopefully, you got a laugh or two.
But think about it. If your network is constantly going down, your copier consistently out of order, your scan-to-email not functioning, or some other technological gliches are happening on a consistent basis, something is wrong and it's affecting the people that use them.
In some cases, the problems are user-based and can be fixed with training. Sometimes it's just a setting that needs changing. It may be due to a bad network infrastructure. Many times though, the toxic technology is clearly old technology that needs to be replaced.
The point is, your company's greatest value is your people. Technology is meant to empower them. If the technology is not doing that, it's likely toxic and taking away from your greatest commodity — your people.
About R.K. Black, Inc.
R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based, family-owned leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in Oklahoma and Kansas. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.
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