I attended a meeting at my local weight management group. I am a member for life and still enjoy support and networking and sometimes I get good article ideas. Today my idea is not from the topic of the meeting, but from what is happening.
This organization automated the operation of the main “storefront” location with computers several years ago. The remote locations that they rent only for meeting times, such as in churches and fitness centers, are not automatic. So clearly there are still procedures for running meetings manually, but the automated center no longer provides supplies for this and some staff members have never been trained, or have long forgotten, manual procedures.
Today the computer is dead, and even with the help of technical support, staff cannot fix it at the end of the meeting. They weigh people manually and sell products, but the presence and sale of products is not recorded. That’s a problem because the staff gets a commission based on the presence and sale of the product! This will also cause a few problems for members who don’t pay monthly prepayments, because next week the computer will charge them for the week that was missed and the receptionist needs to replace the bill.
As a former employee, I like this technology because it increases accuracy and saves time. But I feel it reduces the human element. The receptionist is now very busy looking at the computer screen, scanning things, and clicking options (when the computer works 🙂 so I feel eye contact has diminished. And that reduces empathy and the feeling of being connected that VITAL to this organization.
I realize that much of what we have today depends on technology. But do we become too dependent on him? Are we missing the human element in business?
I just upgraded to “smart phone” this week. I confess I have wanted it for some time, so I came up with the excuse of wanting to check email and Facebook while away without having to carry my computer and possibly pay for internet access. I actually find it ironic that the low cost motel chains provide free wireless access while the larger, expensive hotels charge for in-room access. With more people getting smart phones every day, I wonder how soon the large hotels will stop offering access outside of their offices in the lobby which are normally free to use.
I love the idea of the smart phone, but ever since my husband got his, he is often distracted when I am trying to talk to him. It’s just too easy to check mail or surf the net! One man even told me this week that he feels all of the kids these days (and some adults!) talk only in text messages. He said they are always referring to “talking” to their friends when actually they only exchanged text messages.
I love technology. But I escaped my career in it to have more human contact. Yes, I know you are reading this on a computer and I am writing it on a computer! But I submit articles in the hope of actually speaking with some of my readers one day!
Technology is grand and extends our reach. But don’t forget that you have eyes and ears for a reason, and your mouth isn’t just for eating! And my smart phone will never replace hugs.