Digital Disruption: Adapting to Change

Progress is impossible without change

How well do you deal with change? While few would quibble with George Bernard Shaw’s observation, it’s also worth considering one from Real Careers alumna Helen Rees. Her view is that people are more inclined to welcome change when it’s been well considered and has clear, demonstrable benefits.

Here’s what Helen and the rest of my Digital Disruption panel think about the pace of technological change in the administrative world, and how people react to it.

We have to understand how we can use digitization to our advantage, and embrace it

Sofie Koark(Stockholm, Sweden): As Executive Assistants, we are often restricted by IT security in our workplaces since we handle a lot of confidential material. It can slow down the possibility to try new available online tools.

Of course the tools and systems we use at our workplaces will increase and be totally cloud-based. I think things will move quickly when it comes to administration. As I understand, anything that is possible to automate will be digitized, which will affect and change our profession. We have to understand how we can use this to our advantage and not compete with technology, but instead embrace it and adapt to it.

Get a digital mentor from the younger generation

What about how people adapt to change? I think these are exciting times and I am very interested in how digitalization will change our profession. I like to think that it is not about age, but about mindset. Change is a constant and so we have to embrace it. Never again will there be a time when things move as slowly as today when it comes to technology and innovation. It will only go faster, so we as Executive Assistants better get proactive. I would advise people to get a digital mentor, someone from the younger generation, to help understand and explore new ways of working and communicating.

Early adopters love finding new technology tools for the career – but need to be mindful of security

MistiLynn Lokken (Seattle, USA): I would categorise myself as an early adopter; I love finding new technology tools that impact my job.

However, there is a balance with security because the administrative field is a target for those with mal-intent so a close partnership with the IT group is key.

 Good PAs and EAs can make use of technology to be more effective and efficient in their careers

Helen Rees (Hampshire, England): It depends on what aspect of digital innovation and change is in question. Nothing will ever replace the human interaction element of being a good PA/EA; there are very subtle, human, EQ skills and abilities that could not be replaced by technology. However, good PAs and EAs can also make excellent use of new technologies to make their working lives more effective and efficient, freeing them up to do more.

I welcome change when it is well thought through, considered, and has clear demonstrable benefits. Don’t change for change’s sake. “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should”. Don’t spend lots of money on new kit if it doesn’t address the needs and working environment of your business. There’s no point, for example, installing touch screen technology or multiple laptops in all our teams’ mess rooms – they work with animals and spend the majority of their day outdoors with the animals, not at desks.

Change is inevitable; assistants need to be resilient and able to adapt

Janice Parker (London, England; originally from Australia): It isn’t just within the admin. world; disruption and innovation are happening across all industries and sectors of the world. It is fast and furious if you consider the pace at which new technologies and apps are released – and, while we would like for it to be planned and logical, unfortunately this doesn’t happen as much as we would like. Being a little blunt here, assistants need to be resilient and able to adapt to change – just think of how much our roles and workplaces have changed in the last 5, 10. 20, 30 years! Change is inevitable, it is just the type we are now dealing with that we need to adapt to. Once it was moving from typewriters to computers. Now, it’s looking at working remotely, working with cloud technology and perhaps using smart devices the majority of the time as you are on the go.

Change is growth

Julia Schmidt (Oslo, Norway; originally from Brazil): In the companies where I have worked, digital innovation has been implemented in a planned and logical manner. Managers need time to plan and implement at a corporate level. 

Change brings growth; it is challenging and, for me, the pace of innovation has been intense. I love change and embrace it in a positive way.

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