Technology doesn’t stand still – the pace of change is faster than ever. So what do you do when it’s left you behind? What do you need to look out for when you’ve taken a career break, or you’re gearing up for a modern working environment?
Sylvie Garvey runs Computer Fitness, an IT business geared to training and empowering people to be more confident in dealing with technology, particularly when changing their career or role, or returning to work after a break. I spoke with Sylvie to investigate how technology in the working world has evolved in recent years and hear her tips on getting up-to-speed.
You can choose to listen to an audio recording of the interview below, or scroll down past it to read a summary of the key tips that Sylvie shared with me.
Up in the cloud: Work anywhere and everywhere
The key evolution is that technology has ‘gone mobile’ in a big way. Better connectivity and cloud storage now enables us to work almost anywhere. But what is the cloud?
It is storage space in the same way as a hard drive on your computer – except that it’s on the internet. With the right permissions you can access that data or those documents in the cloud, exactly as if they were on your mobile device or computer. So you can work on them whether you’re at the office, in a coffee shop, or in your car waiting to pick the kids up from school.
Documents in the cloud can be accessed by multiple people. That means more than one person can work on a centrally stored document, adding, updating, fact-checking etc, in less time than it used to take to forward it from one person to the next.
Some cloud storage providers you may have heard of are iCloud, Dropbox and OneDrive. They are all just brand variants of cloud storage, with similar features.
Cloud storage can also be a life-saver! If your laptop gets broken or stolen, your data hasn’t gone with it. It will always be accessible on an alternative device.
Collaboration: We’re all in this together
Another big leap forward has come with team collaboration tools. Microsoft Teams and Yammer, Slack and Trello are all popular, and bigger firms often have their own in-house versions.
A collaboration tool is a project or team focused direct messaging system. Some have a dashboard or task planning and scheduling capability, or to do list function. They’re great productivity tools, enabling both individual and group communication and task management within departments or project teams.
Collaboration tools are more informal than emails and will often contain an element of social chat alongside the business, work or project topics. They maintain a history of who has said or done what, so can be very useful in keeping up with what’s going on.
When everything changes: The challenge of software updates
Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google are continually improving their software. It can be daunting when things you have used before (e.g. Microsoft Word and Excel) look different from what you’re used to. But the basic functions remain and mostly, these tools will still work in much the same way. Just take time to familiarise yourself with an updated look, and any new features. When you see a new icon in an update, be curious. Click on it and see what happens – it’s the best way to learn and uncover great new tools and functions.
The ‘Help’ functions in every product are getting better and better and are ready to guide you through learning how to execute specific tasks. If you get stuck you can often find tips, advice and even mini training courses on the manufacturer’s website (for example, here is Microsoft’s training area), or on YouTube.
Many software tools today can be bought by on a subscription basis, rather than making a one-off payment. This means they update automatically, and you are pulled along, rather than getting left with outdated and unsupported software versions.