The current globalization trend, along with the increasing use of information technology has made organizations more dependent on technology to conduct business. However, for an organization to effectively maximize productivity of human resources and technologies, it is important to consider the technical and social aspects. This is where the use of the socio-technical perspective comes in. The socio-technical perspective addresses the issues experienced by organizations at present. The issue of information overload is especially notable. A socio-technical perspective can be more productive in helping organizations manage information overload by ensuring excellence in technical activities and high quality work experiences of the workers.
This article defines and describes the socio-technical perspective, and how it is used to address information overload in organizations today.
What is the socio-technical perspective?
The socio-technical perspective is a way of developing organizations to address the complexity of the organizational environment. Human resources can impact the organization, just as technology and other technical factors can affect the organization. The socio-technical perspective requires consideration for the technical and social aspects of the organization.
In the socio-technical perspective, the technical aspect includes various methods, techniques and technologies workers use. The technical aspect presents the formalities and technological assets of the organization. Also, every organization has a social aspect, pertaining to the workers and their social relations. The organization is subject to the social situation involving its workers.
In using the socio-technical perspective, managers and leaders must deal with these two important aspects of the organization. They must address needs and issues workers encounter in the technical aspect, such as in using standard procedures and technologies. At the same time, leaders and managers must address the needs, issues and expectations of the people in the social aspect of the organization.
The traditional perspective of the organization separates the technical aspect from the social aspect. In the traditional perspective, managers and leaders divide their time and effort for these two aspects. To address such separation of the technical aspect and social aspect, the socio-technical perspective is used. The socio-technical perspective combines these two aspects. This perspective considers the two aspects as interrelated. The organization’s human resources use the technical aspect. The human resources and the social aspect determine the use of techniques, methods and technologies in the workplace. In effect, the socio-technical perspective leads to a single approach that can be applied on the two aspects at the same time.
Taking a Socio-technical Perspective to Manage Information Overload
Information overload is a major issue in organizations. The increasing use of information technologies makes it possible for workers to access vast amounts of information. In addition, information technologies in the workplace have created new job requirements that workers address by accessing even more information. The result is that the organization continually gains information through information technologies, and the workers who use these technologies increasingly experience information overload.
To address the problem of information overload, the socio-technical perspective can be used. Through the socio-technical perspective, the technical aspect is considered in terms of the tools workers use, the effects of information technologies on workers, and the actual performance of these technologies in the organization. In relation, the socio-technical perspective makes managers and leaders consider the effects of information overload on social relations, motivation, job satisfaction, and performance of workers.
Through the socio-technical perspective, leaders and managers make decisions that maximize the benefits of technologies, while minimizing information overload and other negative experiences of workers. A socio-technical perspective can be more productive in helping organizations manage information overload than either technical solutions or organizational solutions alone. The socio-technical perspective ensures excellence in technical activities and high quality work experiences of employees.
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