Can technology help you switch off?

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How to create an automate-first culture: part 4

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Can technology help you switch off?
Why automation is about culture as much as technology

Emma Robinson

November 30, 2020

It’s very common to hear how technology of all kinds delivers efficiencies for the businesses they serve. What you don’t see as often is how - in specific terms - a solution can help it’s user work less, get time back in your evenings, or at the weekend. Or how they can specifically help with the stressful elements of your job, the unpredictability, the fire-fighting, or the out-of-hours heroics required to get things over the line. 

That’s what we’re going to lay out here. But first, have you watched ‘the Social Dilemma’ on Netflix yet? 

If not, I’ll briefly summarise below, but seriously, you’d be much better coming back to this when you have seen it. Go on, most of us are in/entering another lockdown - what else are you doing?

‘The Social Dilemma’

If you have watched the fascinating and terrifying (in almost exactly equal parts) documentary on the way that early Silicon Valley execs and developers specifically designed our everyday social and productivity apps and platforms to be hugely gamified and addictive. My next question is: What did you do straight after? Delete the apps, swear off social media, and swipe your kids’ phones out of their hands while googling ‘can you still buy a Nokia 3310?’

The question explored in the Social Dilemma, is ‘are we too late?’ Is our lifestyle, both working and personal, already too entrenched with these technologies? Have the notifications got us? Can we lift our heads from technology without experiencing withdrawal, justifying, or bargaining behavior - ‘this is for work, so I have to’, ‘I just need to check this’, ‘I’ll start reducing screen time tomorrow’. 

While the answer is probably, ‘yes’, the solution is not that straightforward. Unless you’re planning to go totally off the grid in a cave somewhere, technology is not going anywhere. It doesn’t help to see our relationship with technology as all bad without focusing on ways to improve, reframe, and rebalance it. 

The impossibility of ‘switching off’ 

The teams we normally work with operate in extremely high-pressure environments, consistently working to ensure the smooth delivery of operations, change, and large-scale programs. These are the weekend warriors, the people who are pushing deployments outside of working hours to reduce disruption. They’re the people who don’t always know what they’re coming into Monday morning, so they’ll probably take a look Sunday night - ‘just in case’. Every email notification could be a small fire to put out. So who wouldn’t check it straight away? We all know what happens when you leave a small fire unattended... 

The lights have to stay on, incidents have to be treated rapidly, and the end customer’s ‘always-on’ expectations have never been higher. That’s just how it is. 

Using technology to your advantage

Our mission is to enable humans and machines to work together in a way that is more intelligent, harmonious, and actually frees the human to do more, to innovate more. We do this because better human/machine collaboration unlocks innovation, reduces risk, and delivers unparalleled efficiencies for the business. 

But what about the person? What does our work orchestration and observability platform actually give, in a tangible, real-life sense, to the teams and clients we work with in order to get there? 

Predictability

Going back to The Social Dilemma, briefly, one of the key psychological tricks built into user experience is based on the fact that unpredictability leads to a bigger feel-good dopamine hit. You know that constant ‘refresh’ that you do on your emails, your social feed? The ‘is there one hundred urgent emails, or is there not’ uncertainty is triggering a response in your brain chemistry. Without getting into rat experimentation and its implications, the key point is that unpredictability plays a big part in creating addiction, but it can also be a huge stressor. 

No nasty surprises 

Cutover helps you look ahead and preempt issues before they become incidents. By achieving better observability over the entire end to end process, you are able to build and control your entire process, and all its interdependencies, in one place. There’s no moving in and out of a handful mission-critical apps - your plan, your people, your communications, and your tools are all orchestrated from one view. 

Stop ‘watching’ work being done

When it comes to these big change events, or pushing a critical release, how much time do you spend doing vs checking, watching, sitting on open bridges or calls, waiting for your ‘part’? We see this as ‘watching’ work being done, but we know it’s not as passive as it sounds: it’s as stressful and time-consuming as its more active counterpart, especially when its done out of hours or on weekends. 

With highly automated workflows, integrations with your existing toolkits, and notifications that tell you when intervention is needed, Cutover enables you to stop watching work. By giving you better oversight of the end to end plan, you can see exactly when your time to shine is, and you can look away safe in the knowledge that, if you’re needed, you’ll be notified. How many hours would that give you back?

Don’t be a hero

This one is rather basic, yet so commonplace. If everyone has access to the details they need, and can see what’s happening in real-time, in one place - there is absolutely no need for heroics from one individual. Yes, we all love to be seen as the know-all, go-to person when it’s crunch time, the one person who knows how to do ‘x’ or holds the keys for ‘y’. But you know what, it’s exhausting, inefficient, risky and quite often completely thankless. With Cutover you can hang up your cape without worrying that the minute you log off everything will go up in flames. 

Automate your status updates

We’re willing to bet that these are three of the most disruptive questions out there: ‘What’s the status on this?’, ‘Can I have a progress report on that?’, ‘How are we tracking against X?’ 

Tools are dropped, data is exported, spreadsheets are opened, and the live execution is paused while data is collected for stakeholder reports and updates. Pulling data like this takes time, and it’s frustrating because it is immediately out of date, and, as we all know, it’s never a one-time request. 

We’re not saying progress updates aren’t important, but we are saying it’s a massive time drain, not that effective, and dare we say irritating? So we made it simple. With Cutover, you can share a dashboard that highlights all they key details needed to understand progress with whoever needs them. It takes less that a minute. By our calculations, we’ve saved you about 2-3 hours right there, of course there are some variables, including how speedy your excel skills are...    

We know that you would never be able to switch off on a change weekend, or go off the grid during the final stages of a critical release. But what we are saying is that with better oversight, an integrated, unified view, and a solution that enables you to better orchestrate your work end to end, you can claw back an hour, or an evening away from work screens per week. More importantly perhaps, you can minimize stress triggers brought about by the unknown or unpredicted. Sometimes it’s as much about saving the headspace your work occupies, as it is about actually shutting the laptop. What you do with that newly acquired spare time (Netflix or the great outdoors?) is completely up to you. 

Take your time back 

The first step towards better human and machine collaboration is all about getting the machines working for you, with you, and definitely not against you.

The magic happens when human involvement becomes the exception, and not the default. Find out how to create an automate-first culture, and get your precious hours back, by watching this expert-led webinar. Watch now  

To find out more about Cutover’s work orchestration and observability solution, why not book a tailored demo?

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