A close-up of Melanie Fellay, a woman with dark hair smiling at the camera against a bright purple background.
Melanie Fellay. Image: Spekit

The danger of having too many digital tools in the workplace

19 Jul 2021

While digital tools have been a lifeline for many knowledge workers who have had to go completely remote, an overreliance on them can lead to disengagement.

The world has been looking to productivity tools and work management systems for years, but the acceleration of remote working has made this more important than ever.

But there’s also the danger of becoming so reliant on digital tools that work processes can become overcomplicated. Additionally, the increase in remote working and less face-to-face interactions can lead to disengagement among employees.

This can be especially important when it comes to onboarding new employees, especially in the last 18 months when new employees may not have even met their colleagues.

How can companies ensure they leverage the digital tools they need for a decentralised workforce without allowing them to become isolated?

Melanie Fellay is the CEO and co-founder of Spekit, a digital learning platform that streamlines onboarding for employees.

‘Employees are inundated with new information from dozens of channels on a daily basis’

“Employees are constantly bouncing from app to app to access information, but because our communications and data are scattered (especially now that we’re all remote), it makes how we work very ineffective,” she said.

“It’s not enough to have information consolidated, it must be instantly accessible to ensure your employees remain productive. This is a vastly different approach than the traditional [learning management software] systems have taken. Instead, we take a contextual, personalised approach to learning that aligns with the way employees want to consume information.”

Fellay said that one of the biggest trends that she has seen change is the way employees learn and work.

“Training has become such a common and universal business challenge, but at the same time, it’s also now so acceptable to have a subpar employee experience,” she said. “With everyday life now instant and intuitive, employees need similar processes in the workplace in order to stay engaged and be able to operate at a higher frequency.”

Presenteeism could no longer be relied upon and the art of learning by osmosis, surrounded by colleagues in a physical workspace, has disappeared for many.

The pandemic has forced employers to think about training, onboarding and engagement through a different lens.

‘The answer isn’t to stack on tool after tool’

Equally, while digital tools can be a huge help, Fellay said the sudden increased reliance on them can lead to its own problems.

“Employees are inundated with new information from dozens of channels on a daily basis, resulting in crucial updates, training or announcements getting lost, dismissed or forgotten. They’re expected to navigate between chat apps, CRM databases, cloud storage, email and a slew of other tools to access the content they need to do their work,” she said.

“Companies will need to make it insanely easy to push changes, new resources or updates to your team the moment they need it directly within their workflow. The answer isn’t to stack on tool after tool, but instead, find better ways to connect the tools your team is already using.”

For her own part, Fellay said process is key when it comes to her own productivity. “It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the day-to-day workload, and mapping out processes is time-consuming,” she said.

“Taking a few steps back to outline what you’re doing and why it matters will save you an incredible amount of time in the long run. You’ll be able to design repeatable, scalable processes that will live on long after you’ve completed the project or task.”

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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