Choose Empathetic Technology: Frontline Tech that Cares

The art of empathy isn’t easy to master. Neither is finding the right tools for your team. Now, these might seem like two disconnected statements but in my experience, they’re closely linked.

Historically, the rollout of business software was largely down to whether a boss alone saw the value. We’re increasingly seeing the decision-making power shift to workers. And when it’s the frontline rather than the C-suite making the call, it matters whether the technology is easy to use.

The logistics and supply chain industry was and still is severely affected by the pandemic, from canceled sailings to a shortage of truck drivers. Frustration and anxieties are higher than ever, and the last thing you want to do is introduce technology that exacerbates it.

It’s time to be selective about what software you introduce and implement. How do you choose the right tech? It starts with empathy.

Solve for Simplicity

In an environment that is growing more complex—simplicity wins. And simplicity starts, unsurprisingly, with empathy. Empathetic technology puts the user top of mind, with a tremendous amount of time dedicated to understanding what problems they really need to solve, and providing the most intuitive path to doing so. This can be via the simplicity of design, team planning, or issue prevention.

To start, find simple interfaces that are easy to learn. If employees don’t find an app to be intuitive, they will find it a frustrating and low-value experience—regardless of the device they use. The dynamic nature of the logistics sector demands that teams are able to pick up their phones and use the tech immediately, without much training or a huge implementation rollout. It shouldn’t be too complicated.

Look for systems with in-built ease. Even better, search for tech that allows you to tailor information capture to what is operation critical. This requires a delicate balance of simplicity and detail, so there is enough ease in the process for frontline workers and enough information for management to resolve hiccups along the way.

Rather than having HQ alone decide what will work for the frontline workers and handing it off to users, put the power in their hands. Allow them to trial the technology before coming to a decision. After all, those who are closest to procedures are best placed with operational knowledge.

Ongoing Encounters with Tech

Finding the right technology is only one part of the equation. Understanding the success of adoption is another. The implementation of technology isn’t a one-off event so it’s essential to check in whether teams are using it effectively. Not only is it important to justify the time and dollars spent on the tech rollout, but it’s important to know how the employees are responding, interacting, and feeling towards it.

Migrating tech is a challenge for most businesses. It presents a set of hurdles such as resistance to change, frustrations around training, or the fear of deskilling. And this resistance is completely normal, especially for long-standing employees who have been doing things the same way for a long time.

That’s why it’s vital that management has visibility of what’s going on. Only then can the impact of tech be fully understood. One way to gauge is to do a quick survey to collect feedback. Another option is to find software with in-built reporting or analytics—this can identify any inefficiencies, pain points, and employee engagement. Patterns can be pinpointed, and findings can be used to start a conversation with employees to drive improvement.

The future of work has been fast-tracked to the present and digital tools will be key to maintaining that momentum. Start with empathetic tech that engages workers and you’ll find that the whole organization benefits.

About the Author

James Simpson is the chief technology officer at SafetyCulture, a global technology company. Its mobile-first operations platform leverages the power of human observation to identify issues and opportunities for businesses to improve everyday. More than 28,000 organizations use its flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp, to perform checks, train staff, report issues, automate tasks, and communicate fluidly. SafetyCulture powers over 600 million checks per year, approximately 50,000 lessons per day and millions of corrective actions, giving leaders visibility and workers a voice in driving safety, quality, and efficiency improvements.