How to show empathy in tech-enabled workplaces

By Ross A. McIntyre 4 minute Read

The coronavirus pandemic for many individuals has represented a driver of non-public {and professional} adjustments—some welcome, some not so welcome. For occasion, if you happen to’re a employee who doesn’t have entry to a pc or a reliable web connection, you seemingly struggled with the transition to distant work. This deficit is extra frequent than many individuals understand. In reality, greater than 30 million Americans lack entry to mounted broadband service, in accordance to the latest report on broadband progress by the Federal Communications Commission.

This inequity has penalties. A Pew Research Center survey exhibits that almost all of enterprise and coverage leaders, innovators, researchers, and builders foresee a future that’s extra depending on know-how. Digital connections shall be mandatory for on a regular basis actions, creating obstacles for individuals who lack entry. Additionally, the identical survey exhibits {that a} tech-driven future may worsen financial equality, additional improve the facility of Big Tech, and exacerbate the parallel pandemic of misinformation.


While this actuality is unsettling, there’s hope. The main lesson corporations have discovered in the course of the pandemic is that enterprise depends on collaboration, and the muse of collaboration is empathy. You don’t want to be deeply indoctrinated in design considering to see this, nor do you want to develop a customized software program resolution to have interaction with customers in an empathetic style. You merely want to alter your considering and begin placing your self in others’ sneakers.

Technology may help open a number of the inroads to extra fairness—and thereby extra empathy—in the office. Here are just a few methods to start the method.

Break down boundaries to know-how entry

Ultimately, empathy helps construct a extra egalitarian society that may reorient society towards larger inclusiveness; with out it people and their communities will undergo.

The future ought to be inside attain of all, and one piece of that puzzle is bigger entry to know-how. People ought to give you the option to work together with know-how in ways in which work finest for them. Otherwise, it turns into a barrier to employment, development, productiveness, and so forth.


While the U.N. General Assembly handed a decision declaring web entry a human proper, the transfer uncared for to handle the federal government’s function in this course of. How to make know-how accessible now rests in the fingers of enterprise leaders. After all, corporations ought to be answerable for stakeholders related to enterprise: clients, workers, communities, the planet, and society at massive. Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of Salesforce, refers to this as “stakeholder capitalism.” Focus your efforts on greater than earnings by discovering methods to contribute to the broader social good.

According to one other survey by the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans who make lower than $50,000 yearly don’t use the web. As a frontrunner, you may bridge the digital divide by reimbursing home internet service for workers and offering computer systems. But the business commonplace of offering laptops doesn’t want to stay de facto. Given that many individuals presently lack mobility due to the worldwide pandemic, ready-to-use desktop computer systems which might be programmed for distant entry could make extra sense. These gadgets are far superior in phrases of cooling and ergonomic wants. Further, they’re less expensive to help.

Leverage sources to collaborate

The present setting has paved the best way for a wider array of distant processes that may bolster empathy in the office. Nearly each business is shortly adopting and leveraging applied sciences to allow digital companies, resembling telework, telehealth, e-commerce, and extra. While an adjustment interval was mandatory, time has proven how these developments can help sensible working fashions that provide larger autonomy, enhance job efficiency, and improve people’ high quality of life.

Consider the rise of edtech, or tech-enhanced schooling. The dialog has shifted from whether or not know-how ought to be leveraged to how. The development of personalised methods signifies that a studying program can adapt to a person’s studying fashion, grasp of context info, and higher put together the coed for self-directed studying.


Similarly, companies have accepted that know-how retains them operating easily and optimizes worth. The secret’s discovering instruments that maximize uniquely human output. Digital touchpoints presently lack the indefinable power of group ideation. You’ll want to clear this hurdle in a hybrid work world. The various could be bifurcated worker teams of workplace staff and distant staff, which is neither collaborative nor productive.

Go from a time-bound to a results-oriented format

Leading with empathy can function an expert “pay it forward.” How empathy takes form will rely in your group, however transferring to the ROWE mannequin is usually a very good start line. ROWE, or results-only work environments, place workers as energetic members in the office, empowering their talents and constructing ardour for his or her particular person contributions. The intention is have staff assembly extra success whereas working from their house or the workplace.

You’ll want to permit for timing flexibility, set expectations, and supply actionable suggestions. Take the next steps and acknowledge that whereas easy to determine they’ll masks appreciable organizational complexity:

  • Build a stable cultural understanding of results-only expectations.
  • Define your organization mission.
  • Set measurable outcomes.
  • Enable workers with the suitable know-how and sources.
  • Apply a framework that enables you to experiment, look at, and evolve.

We could be remiss if we didn’t use this opportune time to emerge with a renewed sense of particular person equality, in which individuals (versus huge companies) are granted equal rights; to root out inequality; and to unfold to all the benefits usually reserved for the prosperous.

Ross A. McIntyre is the chief technique officer at Frogslayer, a customized software program improvement and digital innovation firm.

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