In a recent blog, we explored the common reasons people and companies resist change. Some of the biggest barriers are the initial loss of productivity, the busy schedules already in place and fear of confusion or failure.
One of the most common changes many people regularly resist is updating the technology needed to do their jobs, either software or hardware. For example, a 2017 survey by Pew Research found that 14% of people never update their phone’s operating system, and 42% only do so when it’s convenient, despite the fact that these updates sometimes containing urgent security fixes. Why? Research reveals that these frequent notifications for updates not only destroy focus, but they also cause stress and anxiety.
It turns out this isn’t a modern phenomenon. Sara Thomée, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, described it in evolutionary terms. As she explained to Medium.com, our brains are “evolved to react to stimuli to protect us against danger; a corresponding rise in stress hormones, like cortisol, will better enable us to react to that danger.” In a sense, technological notifications act in a similar way. “In a workday, where perhaps not many tigers are around, frequent notifications will probably raise our levels of stress and break our focus,” she said.
So we’re somewhat hardwired to resist technology updates — yet the benefits of an upgrade can be significant. Are there steps we can take to ensure a smooth transition to a new technology platform that we know logically is a good move to improve workflow, but that we still face with an edge of skepticism and, yes, fear? Here are three:
- Plan. Work with your technology provider to understand any hardware needs or requirements for system implementation. Choose a time on your corporate calendar to make the switch when you aren’t in the middle of renewals, events, important industry meetings or large department projects. Map out the process, understand potential issues and be realistic on the time required. Include training in your timeline.
- Launch. It’s okay to celebrate new technology as a significant corporate milestone. Have some fun counting down to the launch date, and use this time to explain the reason for the upgrade and how it will ultimately improve workflow. Understand the implications for each department and provide an easy process for help during your time of transition.
- Accountability. It’s common for everyone to assume a change in technology is the sole responsibility of the IT department. However, if you want successful implementation and acceptance of the new platform, you should create a task force with representatives from multiple departments. This group should help from initial technology selection through launch, evaluation and adjustments. There is a much greater chance of long-term success and positive attitudes when decisions are shared, respect is shown for individual department concerns, and progress among employees is checked regularly.