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The Fallacy

One school of thought says it is best for an organization to allow its employees to upgrade their operating systems and learn how to use them at home. The logic is that if people use the system at home they will learn all the intricacies, which in turn applies to their day-to-day needs. This means that their employer will not need to spend money on training and that the employee will be maximally productive upon introduction of the new system.

The Reality

In practice, however, it is very unlikely that someone left to their own devices will do much more than simply muddle through. This is not an attempt to disparage anyone’s genuine efforts to improve their understanding and skills. This is a recognition that, in general, people are simply interested in completing the current task. If, for instance, their aim is to become proficient in playing a particular game; send an email with an attachment, etc., they will concentrate on that particular activity and nothing else.

The Overlap

Few would disagree, that synergies are in play. Meaning that skills developed at home are applicable to the work environment whilst skills developed in the work environment are applicable at home. This does imply that the general idea we identified in the Fallacy does have a small amount of merit.

The Reversal

In fact, I would suggest that the problem with all the steps identified in the Fallacy is that they are backwards. If we take the idea forward and provide direct training at work and then allow, perhaps even encourage, employees to use the latest systems at home we create a virtuous circle.

We will consider the use of Windows 10 in our example because it is the most recent operating system available.

Let me explain this in detail. An organization decides that they will be upgrading their operating system throughout the different departments on a rolling basis. They do all of the background work, create their plan and begin implementation. The basic flow is as follows:

  1. Employees attend a one day course, to learn the new aspects of Windows 10
  2. The IT department upgrades their workstations to use Windows 10
  3. Employees are encouraged to take the upgrade offer for home use

Now this is how a virtuous circle works. The organization has provided the jump-start into using the new software both at home and work. The new software is available immediately for employees to practice and become familiar with as part of their day-to-day work. Nothing else has changed with respect as to how they do their day-to-day job. The processes and procedures remain the same so does all the other software. Now when Microsoft present their upgrade offer employees know that the company directly supports then because they have already received training. They are now more confident with the use of the computer at home and office because each aspect reinforces the other.

The organization, because they have provided direct and specific training to their employees, know that the training and learning given are precisely what everyone requires.

This boosts the confidence of employees who feel the organization’s support, together with the additional experience they gain from having confident and competent employees. We, once again, provide a win/win situation.

To be clear, there is, of course, a direct financial cost to this strategy. It will cost time to upgrade people’s systems and to employ a trainer (whether they are currently a company employee or an external provider). However, this is not the same as spending money on tea and coffee. This is about investing in the organization’s future and enabling a better; more effective and efficient workforce. This, of course, in turn drives the bottom line of the organization.

Summary

As we have seen, the old way of seeing the world really does not make sense. That which looks like a free lunch, clearly is not. To expect employees without any experience, training or support to teach themselves an upgrade on their own is a tall order.

We can, turn this idea run its head, provide a small amount of training which empowers the employee and enables organizations to benefit from the synergies working from home on the same equipment or systems that are used at work. This then enables their skills to mesh and all of the inherent benefits that this produces for them both in their personal and work lives.

Of course, this also makes the organization a much better place to work, because they clearly demonstrate the value of their employees and perhaps more importantly that the company supports and empowers their employees.


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