Ingram’s Insights: Tech’s Shortcomings & Q2 Hybrid/Remote Forecast

2024-04-15 | BY Ingram Losner | IN Free Resources, Hiring

Ingram’s Insights: Tech’s Shortcomings & Q2 Hybrid/Remote Forecast

Listing technology’s shortcomings has become somewhat of a sport.  

According to news headlines across the spectrum, AI threatens to unravel the very fabric of our world while teens, addicted to the little screens in their pockets, suffer the highest rates of depression in history, and governments the world over struggle to regulate, for better or worse, our current tech-dominated reality.  

Are these criticisms deserved? Likely yes, at least in part. The applications of tech are vast and at times intimidating (especially when paired with the cynicism of our media). But for all its faults, technology has made our lives infinitely more efficient.  

I remember, without much fondness, the days when “sourcing” for a candidate involved flipping through the Yellow Pages. When research took hundreds of manhours and jobs were printed in newspapers.  

I do not miss those days.  

Yet in our zeal for progress, we seem to have forgotten one essential thing; technology is a poor replacement for human connection. 

The missing puzzle piece

In a tough market like the one we’re experiencing, it’s natural to seek solace in and guidance from friends and colleagues alike. Comfort is gained from knowing we are not alone in our struggle.  

As recruiters we see it all the time; from employers struggling to hire, to candidates faced with an especially unforgiving jobs market, everyone craves community assurance. Hardship is much easier shouldered by a collective. It’s why, in part, Proven Recruiting is not headed by a single CEO, but rather a duo of Co-CEOs – more people to carry the blame when things go south! 😉 

Yet these days, that sense of community, of shared struggle, is nowhere to be found. Employees are isolated. Company culture is diminishing. Managers are desperate for direction. The C-suite is nostalgic for the “good old days,” even if those days were objectively worse on so many dimensions. Workers sit alone in their homes, typing away on their computers, wondering why the same work that once felt so fulfilling is no longer satisfying. 

What’s missing?

In-office work is like exercise 

We all know in-office work will make us happier and healthier, but actually doing it is entirely unappealing (or so I’m told).  

It feels good during and immediately after – but then days pass and the comfort of our own home beckons. Easy access to a fridge-worth of snacks clouds our rational thought, and soon we find the desire to go into the office virtually nonexistent (I speak from observation, not experience – I delight in spending time with our team!). 

We take health and wellness seriously in most other parts of our lives, so why is it so difficult to acknowledge the benefits of regularly and meaningfully connecting with our coworkers? Have we become so reliant on video calls and virtual meetings that we can’t see the value of sharing a casual conversation with a colleague, or learning through experience, or sharing space with those we respect and admire?  

I don’t mean to place the blame entirely on remote work. Depending on the person and the profession, remote work can be a gift. But in touting remote work’s strengths, we seem to have somehow lost sight of its weaknesses. 

When was the last time technology made you laugh? 

We’re so used to relying on technology to solve our problems, that we assume it’s the best solution to all problems. 

When our people send an email rather than picking up the phone  believing a quick message just as effective as a casual chat  they’re missing the opportunity to make someone laugh. To learn something new. To share about their weekend plans, or else suggest a new restaurant to try. They can’t possibly assess what challenges the person on the other end of the line may be facing, or whether they’re stressed, or if they’re in a talkative mood.  

Despite our heavy reliance on it, technology doesn’t have all the answers (yet). Maybe someday in the not so distant future, ChatGPT will make me genuinely laugh – and not at how ridiculously off-base its responses often are. 

Until then, I will have to continue to rely on other humans to keep me on my toes; I just hope they don’t outsource their quippy responses and heart-warming anecdotes to some computer program that will, invariably, suck it dry of all life and spit out something hopelessly generic.  

For now, humans are still good for a great many things. Let’s remember that next time we rely on tech to bridge a gap much better bridged by an extended hand.  

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