With just over a third of the UK’s workforce lacking the digital skills required for work, we sat down with Jonathan Cooper from The Unlearning Company to discuss all things digital in the workplace and how we must adapt to keep up with the times.

What is the digital revolution? 

Almost everything we do is connected to some form of digital device. Most of our activities – from communications to business systems and workflows are digitally managed in some form. A plethora of big data facilitates the creation of reports, helps companies make decisions, and can even predict exactly what a customer wants next based on engagement and interactions. This creates a new level of efficiency, however, it could also be overwhelming to non-digitally native people.

What impact is the digital revolution having in the workplace?

Big data is woven throughout daily tasks now in any form of digital device. From simple searches on the web with SEO providing an abundance of efficiency to facilitating lifesaving equipment in hospitals.

While digital expands opportunities, it can also bring challenges. In particular, the assumption of digital ability amongst the workforce is a challenge as many companies revolve around computerised platforms for all aspects of communication and business.

For digital natives, technology is an inherent aspect of life but for other generations, platforms like social media can be a minefield. Equally, placing a digital native in traditional face-to-face situations presents new challenges. The pandemic magnified this challenge. With so many employees entering the workplace virtually, many digital natives find traditional communication and face-to-face meetings difficult.

Never has there been a time where working cross-generationally has been so important. Combining younger generations’ innate digital skills with more experienced skillsets of the older generations creates powerful opportunities, and that’s when business will thrive.

What impact might digitalisation have on mindfulness and concentration?

Studies have shown that it takes eight to 25 minutes to recover our concentration when interrupted. In the digital world, interruptions are constant, whether that’s email notifications, the temptation to check social media, or an incoming call when you’re mid-meeting. We must now be intentional about not being interrupted, and not detract attention from the task at hand. Mindfulness is important, at its essence, it’s about being present and maintaining concentration and focus – and ultimately making better decisions.

Is there a threat to job security with increased digitalisation?

We need to reframe, rather than reinvent! Digital is unlikely to replace humans, but humans must adapt to capitalise on the opportunities digital can offer. For example, the influx of readily available data and facts enables us to make increasingly more informed decisions. However, we must be much clearer about the decisions we need to make for that mass of data to be useful to us.

We need to keep up to date, or upskill, to be agile and open to change. Systemising work processes to the way people work and making sure understanding is clear, is key.”