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Kill the sacred cows of the new workforce

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A study has revealed a link between an employee’s ownership of their career and the means of how they expand that career. While employees like good coffee, more than 60% of them would prefer improvements on their desks, says CHRIS BUCHANAN, Dell Director – End user computing – Africa.

A happy employee is a productive employee. So we decided a few months/years ago to give our sales teams something that would make them happy. We turned our break room into a modern Silicon Valley enclave, complete with foosball tables and a barista. Really nice stuff and the staff were very keen for it.

If only I had known better…

To give you an alternative perspective, let me ask a question. Where is the world’s largest cemetery? You may hazard a few guesses, but would any of them be Facebook? Everyday, 10,000 of the social media giant’s users die. That’s incredible – and unheard of. It challenges our perception of the world around us.

But do we bring these new perceptions into our organisations? Not nearly often enough. We still treat workplaces with the same thinking as we always did. And yet the workers of today have very different expectations.

I’m a customer experience guy, with a love for technology. I enjoy it when humans are uplifted and can do more for themselves, especially with the right tech on their side. But I continue to be amazed how the small things, such as the aesthetics of a device, can excite an employee – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What Employees Really Want

Dell recently completed a multi-year study with Intel and the Institute For Future Technology. The results were astounding. Here’s a sample: 32 percent of graduates today will turn down a job if they don’t feel the tech they are provided with will enable them to do the job properly.

Not foosball tables or baristas (though I must add our staff are very happy with those additions!).

The study revealed a clear link between an employee’s ownership of their career and the means of how they expand that career. While employees like good coffee, more than 60 percent of them would prefer improvements on their desks than nice amenities.

This is where the technology comes in. This is an opportunity for IT managers everywhere.

Here’s another question: if you can improve someone’s desk, what would you add? There are many good ideas, but what about headphones? Absurd! Everyone has headphones! Except they don’t – the study shows that many employees see a good pair of headphones as the perfect cure for a busy and noisy office environment. It helps keep them focused.

The same for dual monitors. A second monitor can boost employee productivity by 19 percent. Combine that over a week and it’s nearly an entire day’s extra productivity.

Small Things Matter Most

One of my ongoing challenges in an organisation is the way IT treats employees. We technologists give lip service to the fact that we should be treating our employees as customers. When someone arrives, they might get the device they need only three days later, and then they get the model based on management levels. Little consideration goes into what people are going to do and how they will be productive.

Humans are becoming digital conductors. You don’t think about electricity anymore – it’s just there and you switch it on. That’s the way modern workers look at technology – it’s expected.

The effect goes beyond gadgets on desks. How long does it take to sign up a new employee? They would normally have loads of paperwork to process, which means they are not hitting the ground running. Yet it is certain their CV was sent in an electronic format. If your IT systems could capture that information digitally, it would preempt their paperwork and get them started faster. Everyone will thank you for that one.

Employee journeys are becoming as important as customer journeys. You want to retain good talent and enable them to excel. You don’t really have a choice, because they expect this. The good news is that you already have the power to make those changes, providing you understand the workforce.

Empower The Personas

There are five general personas in most companies: Desk-centric workers who spend half their time as a desk, corridor warriors who spend half their time in meetings, the on-the-go pro who travels a lot, remote employees who work from home, and specialised employees who operate in special environments such as remote audits of sites.

These are not carved in stone, but they give a general idea of who works for the business and what they need. Meeting those needs in practical and often simple technological ways helps keep them productive and motivated.

To tap this momentum, you need to step out of traditional thinking. Get rid of your sacred cows: a nice break room is not as important as multiple monitors or reliable remote access. Change your mindset and then query the digital readiness of your organisation. Get it to the cutting edge.

Study your workforce’s digital maturity levels and engage with HR – they know better than everyone which personas are inside your walls. Finally, create employee resource groups to give feedback. Employees are not meant to be only seen and not heard. If they have your ear, they can help you see the future.

I don’t regret our new break room. In fact, it’s pretty great. But back then I thought you had to go big to impress your workforce. That’s a sacred cow, the old way of thinking. Many small gestures are better than a few big ones. People remember the small touches that technology can deliver.

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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