Tolerating when technology fails in the office

The Robin Team
The Robin Team
Published on 
9.9.2016

Anyone who has ever worked in an office can relate to being frustrated over technology. Has this been you?

About to start a meeting/presentation/call/slideshow/etc and the technology fails.

You fumble with the cords to see if something is loose. You think “maybe if I unplug and plug it back in, it will magically work!”

Nope. Finally you resort to telling your guests you’ll send it out to everyone after the meeting.

What a waste.

This has become such a problem that the way we combat it is by taking extra time out of our day to head down to the room before the meeting to make sure everything is working. But even that is not a safe bet.When did it become acceptable for technology to fail in the office? I don’t think anyone would tolerate if our cars failed to start, or if the wifi is down at Starbucks. This tolerance is expected as soon as they walk through the office doors. Why as employees do we tolerate this? Here is my attempt to explain why this happens and a real solution to fix it.

I find that the bulk of my frustration centers around technology in the conference room.Mainly because during my time at an advertising agency, I was frequently asked to give a presentation, pitch to a client, or some other scenario that required me to battle the mess of cables and cords on the table. To make things worse, the TV has different inputs for each device, making this feel more like I’m are trying to defuse a bomb. “Do I pick the HDMI 1 or 2?” Wait! Maybe it needs to be in TV mode and turned to channel 3.”Having office technology that fails is a universal issue. It’s so accepted by everyone that our best option is to call the number left in the room when something goes wrong. It’s such a problem that workplaces have dedicated people to be on call to help. Or better yet, there is usually a person in the office that everyone thinks is an expect. “Ask Susan, she knows how this stuff work. Oh sh*t Susan is out to lunch, well let me try one more time”.Some of you might even have a touchscreen that controls the entire room: lights, camera, action. If you’re like me, you just hit any button till you get something to turn off or on. I call this trial by error. Somehow this became a good place to start.I believe there are two reasons that contribute to why our tolerance for technology failure is high in the workplace compared other life experiences. The first is lack of education.

Typically rooms are outfitting with thousands of dollars in technology but no one learns how to use it or give training about what you can do with it. This results in most technology going unused.The second is we have been conditioned to believe that technology failure is just how things operate. We witnessed copiers getting jammed, calls never transferring correctly, and faxes being thrown out. All these mounting failures builds a tolerance.As computers took over desk space, people realized they needed a team of experts to help when things went wrong. Their solution was to create an IT department and install a help line. Unfortunately what happened was conversations that usually started by asking: “did you shut it off and turn it back on?” making the employee feel like it’s their fault. This fuels the idea that failure is just a part of doing business.But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. Help is on the way and it comes in the form of sensors. By placing a sensor within a room, it allows the space to react based on data we want to collect.

The sensors that can help us use low energy Bluetooth to know if a device (like a phone) is within range. When paired it with technology already in the room like a Apple TV or Chromecast, it can make getting the presentation on the screen as easy as walking into the room.A smart conference room has the ability to learn about it’s surroundings and answer questions like who is here? what are we meeting about? and are there files to share? This means meetings run smoother and no one leaves angry.

It's not too much to ask that the technology in the workplace becomes as reliable as the technology I encounter in my non-work life. It seems only fair. When you think about the amount of time spent fighting with technology, its rather embarrassing.

If a barista can make my vanilla macchiato with soy milk and caramel drizzle in 5 minutes, I should be able to get the presentation on the screen in less time.