We Need Technology to Help Slow Us Down, Not Work Faster

Our “always on” culture almost conditions us to make quick decisions. In a rush, it’s possible you’ve posted something on social media you regret. Or maybe you’ve bought something online you didn’t need. It’s possible you’ve responded to a work email with your emotions and not your best self.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re simply among the living. Nowadays we move so fast we hardly have time to stop, breathe and think. This can be a problem in the workplace, where you must balance productivity with quality. If you’re moving too fast, you’re likely not doing your best work, or you could make mistakes that end up costing your organization or your people.

Current Technology Doesn’t Help

Whether your office is downtown or in your living room, modern technology has the power to connect you to co-workers and clients in real time from anywhere. It’s believed that this technology-driven speed improves productivity and life in general. In some circumstances, that’s certainly true: it enables you to work from home, hold meetings from across the globe, respond to teammates in seconds, align tech with your operations, etc.

The question is: Are you sacrificing speed and efficiency for quality and clarity? Were you really 100% ready for that video conference? Were your emails tailored to the person on the other end, or were they generic and impersonal? Did you write a novel email that should have been a phone call?

And endless day-to-day agenda can mean that the basics of thoughtful, personal communication can slip through the cracks. As communication methods evolve, it’s important to find effective solutions before you get unsettled by the speed of your tools.

Looking to the Future

Voice Technology Is Headed for a Renaissance

Tech expert Gary Vaynerchuck predicts that voice technology is the future of communication technology, just as social media was a few years ago. This is an interesting prediction because communication technology will have come full circle—what’s old is new again. We’re getting back to our telephone roots. Only in this case we’re not calling our neighbor for sugar— we’re calling Amazon to deliver our sugar.

When that day comes, and groceries are available literally when we call for them, where will the buffer be? What can we do to slow down to ensure when we’re hungry we don’t get the whole farm delivered to our door?

Keeping Our Impulses in Check

Companies like McDermott are creating tools to help us rein in impulses. Icebox is a Chrome plug-in that replaces the “Buy” button on 20 well-known ecommerce sites with a blue button labeled “Put It On Ice.” Hit it and your item goes into a queue, and a week or so later, Icebox asks if you still want to buy it. Chances are you don’t.

This is just one example of an engineering tactic that’s designed to slow us down, rather than speed us up. Imagine this same concept being applied to your inbox. Maybe you don’t need to wait a week to respond to an email, but if your emotional barometer is high, maybe you could wait an hour?

Although the thought of delaying work may seem unnerving because, after all, things need to get done, consider this: Does your impressive pace always represent your best work and core values?

When offered the choice, most of us will opt for convenience. Next time you’re hustling to finish a task, take a moment to consider if you really listened to your client or coworker, or if you just responded as quickly as possible. In business, customer service and support are the keys to retention. If you want to stand out and exceed expectations, slow down and take the time to show your customers how much you value their business.

Take the Time to Care

When you understand people, and what they need to perform at their best, you’d be surprised how much that helps your organization thrive. For example, Gen Z loves to use chat apps. Knowing these nuances could be what separates your customer care and employee retention from that of your competitors.