Technology and productivity: Is one killing the other?

Published on: October 22nd, 2018

If there’s been one constant in our lives over the past 20 years, it’s been this: Technology and change go hand in hand. It’s been the biggest driver of change across both our personal and business lives for as long as I can remember.

I recently read an article from the World Economic Forum, with the main theme being along the following lines: Is technology driving productivity, or is it actually stopping work? The case was made that technology, particularly in the office context, is not actually increasing productivity but is, in fact, an inhibitor to working effectively.

In a lot of ways, it makes sense; we’ve never had more distractions at work when it comes to technology. It’s made our personal and business lives more interrelated than ever before. Take phones, for example, the average consumer these days has at least one, more often than not two, mobile devices. Social media is now so pervasive that it would be pretty rare not to check LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram during the day. The shift in workforce demographics towards millennial workers has only increased the speed of this change.

The article certainly made me think: Has technology actually made us more productive?

It’s easy to understand that change is difficult

It seems that some of the resistance comes from the fact that change, by its very nature, can be difficult. We’re all creatures of habit, so it can be a challenge to move from the status quo. I’m sure plenty of us at work have heard phrases like, “we’ve always done it this way,” or “we can’t change that process, it’s just too hard”.

It’s true that this kind of thinking is there. When technology comes along and changes the way we do things, there can be a period of adjustment. That’s no different for any of us in the workplace, as technology moves so fast that in today’s world, just when you get used to one platform something new comes along!

But does that mean it’s a bad thing?

Technology isn’t going to slow down

Just as people were frightened by the rise of the personal computer in the 1980’s, technology today is still a concern for some people, especially around job security. No one wants to be out of a job simply because technology makes a process completely automated. Our employment governs our financial situation, and it’s hard to live for today or plan for tomorrow without job security.

The point is: Technology isn’t going to stop. So, rather than seeing it as an inhibitor of work, in my view, the key is to look at the positives it brings. For example, yes, it is easy to say that doing a task in a way that is better and more cost effective looks ‘too hard’ at the beginning, but if you plan for change and communicate it effectively, then it should bring all the productivity and financial benefits that you’re looking for.

At Apt, we saw this in how we engage our younger audience. It’s why we built and recently launched a financial planning service specifically for the millennial generation. BeApt is all about starting the financial journey, using online tools to engage an audience that is used to that kind of digital relationship. It’s something we’ll expand on over time. The service is almost exclusively online, utilising technology to deliver advice in a way that is more applicable for a younger generation. It’s technology that has powered that change.

Benefits far outweigh the challenges

 Ultimately, like the humble PC, technology has changed our lives and rather than stop us from being productive, it has opened up whole new ways of working and improved our lives overall.

Financially speaking, technology is undoubtedly going to benefit our lives. Yes, the type of jobs we do might change, but it’ll mean a change of skills rather than not having a role to go to; technology will open new opportunities.

It will also decrease the cost of living. It will add so much in terms of efficiency; I really think that this is an exciting time.

So is it a productivity killer? No, I’d argue it’s the opposite. It’s a game changer and one that is only going to benefit our lives in the long run.

General Advice warning

The information provided in this blog does not constitute financial product advice. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice. Apt Wealth Partners (AFSL 436121 ABN 49 159 583 847) recommends that you obtain professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.