By Zoe Neill (University of Sydney)

Digital technology has become an integral part of our daily lives and is essential to the overall functioning of society. In an OECD session on technology in the workplace, Holly Niemela a Wellbeing Expert at Mindful and Peaceful Inventions, noted that technology has made us ‘busy’, and, warned us of the “full plate, empty life syndrome”. Inefficient ‘business’ leads to less overall work productivity and decreases work morale making. We need a humanist perspective to digital technology in order to increase productivity. 

With this in mind, we were challenged to ask: “To what extent is our wellbeing the responsibility of our employer?” What if working could make you both happier and heathier? When it comes to workplace wellbeing, there needs to be a focus on both the inner and outer space, where innerspace focuses on an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing, and outer space is the environment around them. We need to harness technology to engineer spaces that not only increase productivity but are also a more enjoyable to work in. 

This idea of a ‘humanist’ approach to technology was touched on again in another OECD session, where it explained the importance of digital social innovation. It was emphasised that although technology is rapidly evolving the social impact is not properly understood nor are they utilised. 

Social Impact of Digital Disruptors

Traditional technology firms focus on selling a technology as a product, whereas entrepreneurs are beginning to harness technology as a tool for social innovation. Emergency services have previously been neglected by digital entrepreneurs. However GoodSAM is an example of digital innovation in the emergency services sector. The app allows for uses so simultaneously call the ambulance whilst also alerting people nearby who have the skillset to help them for the time before the ambulance arrives. This innovation has proven to be lifesaving! 

The overarching thread between the two sessions, is that we need to view technology as a tool to create more humanising experiences.