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The Digital Workplace

Modern productivity tools and your needs hierarchy.



Few would disagree that any action taken by a sentient being (assuming it possesses free will of course), will be due to some motivating factor. Motivation can take many forms but can be simplified into 2 main categories – the stick and the carrot. A simple action such as getting out of bed in the morning can be motivated by the need to visit the loo (avoiding a wet bed – the stick) or hunger (literally, the carrot). Its undeniable that without such a motivating factor being present, no one will get out of bed on a cold winter’s morning!


One of the best-known models exploring the concept of motivation, is the “Hierarchy of Needs” created by Abraham Harold Maslow in the 1950s. This model, in short, is based on the principle that humans will be motivated by a priority of needs, starting from basic physiological needs such as food and shelter, progressively becoming more complex as each lower hierarchy need is met, and culminating in self-actualisation, which is to achieve one’s full potential and creativity. In its most basic form, all motivation stems from some “need” or “desire”. The model is best illustrated with the famous Maslow pyramid:


That said, how does Information Technology, and more specifically the World Wide Web (including the various technology areas it spawned such as social media and mobile apps), contribute and assist the individual in fulfilling the needs and desires identified by Maslow? There are, no doubt, already many examples exploring this very question, but let me add a few of my own:


Physiological: This is a tricky one, MrD bringing over a barrel of KFC does not really qualify – lets agree that information technology only becomes relevant to any single individual once his most basic needs have been met;

Safety: Online shopping and Internet Banking – although these undoubtedly bring with it its own set of risks, the ability to transact from the safety of one’s home does contribute to physical and personal safety;

Love: Swipe right, ‘nough said…;

Esteem: Twitter and Donald Trump – 87million followers do lead to a very healthy self-image (or is it an overinflated ego?);

Self-actualisation: Ah -this one deserves a more in depth discussion!


The accepted thinking has always been that to reach the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy, one must either be extremely successful in one’s chosen field, be insanely well off financially, or old and retired. However, if you stop and think about the real path to self-actualisation, it becomes clear that the most important element is time, specifically the “free” kind.


A 45+ hour work week coupled with the myriad of family-, social- and other routine responsibilities that the everyday working person must deal with, leaves very little time to focus on personal higher-level needs and desires. The cost of living for the individual and the financial and operational requirements of businesses worldwide just to stay afloat in these times, makes it difficult to see how it will be possible to create an environment to achieve self- actualisation.


The answer – better efficiencies and higher productivity.


The easiest and most cost-effective way to achieve better efficiencies and higher productivity is the use of technology. Modern productivity tools have now reached a maturity level where large and quantifiable benefits and savings are possible with a smaller financial outlay than before.


We can spend many hours exploring the various technologies available, from collaboration tools and virtual assistants to bespoke bots, machine learning and AI, but in an ever-changing and fast-moving world the solutions you decide on will most probably be outdated and obsolete by the time you fully implement them. Best course of action is to have a well-respected, knowledgeable, and experienced technology partner such as First Digital to guide and assist you with your journey to the modern, Digital Workplace.


Benefits off adopting a Digital Workplace strategy for an enterprise is clear and obvious - least of which are the above-mentioned increased efficiencies and productive output. Just imagine a happy, motivated, and well skilled workforce operating at its creative peak and full potential, and the value it will add to your business?


A last thought – there is a reason that a pyramid is used to illustrate the hierarchy – the base is forever widening and the top sharpening – do not allow your enterprise to fall behind and the sides of the pyramid become too steep to climb. The only way to be successful, is to keep up and stay near the sharp end.


Wimpie Baard


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