Does technology help or hinder innovation?

Whether digital technology will help or hinder workplace insights remains a topic of ongoing debate. FastCo.Design features insights from business scholars on both sides of the issue.

December 09, 2013 |
Steven Burns

Illustration: Hyena Reality;

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer unleashed a firestorm of criticism earlier this year when she ended employee telecommuting in the name of innovation. 

Whether digital technology will help or hinder workplace insights remains a topic of ongoing debate.

FastCo.Design features insights from business scholars on both sides of the issue, drawing from a recent issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

How it helps

Information access—Access to new and diverse information might spark an idea, and digital technology provides that access.

Job engagement—One way to enhance employee engagement may be by providing the type of flexible work arrangements facilitated by technology, including telecommuting.

Professional support—Since digital technology can improve social connections among colleagues, it may help create an encouraging environment that nurtures new insights into full-fledged innovations.

Personal connections—Not only can digital technology strengthen connections across the employee chain, but it can also reach up to supervisors, whose buy-in is often critical to implementation of an idea. 

How it hinders

Information overload—Behavioral scientists remain split on whether or not a person can multitask efficiently in the face of digital technology. Some evidence says our computers spoil our attention; other research suggests we can adapt in time.

Job over-engagement—A study published last year found work-family conflicts were often linked to personal exhaustion and that this effect was worse for people who performed “extensive telework.”

Read more from FastCo.Design.

Editor's Note: This is sponsored content. Text and images were provided by the sponsor company.

Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, and during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After founding his own software company, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development for the company’s groundbreaking project accounting solution, BQE Core.

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