If you’re the kind of person who spends their weeknights Googling new conditional formatting tricks for Excel, then you’re amongst good people. At HTS, Inc., we live our lives in front of a computer screen. Short-keys and Microsoft Office lingo have become a second language

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to us. But we have worked with enough people to understand that everyone approaches technology a little differently. Similar to scheduling preferences (do you prefer a working lunch versus a quiet leisurely meal in the courtyard?), considering the technological aptitudes of your colleagues is an important aspect of understanding how to work with

different people with different levels of computer skills.  Here are 5 tips that can help you make your office a more tech-friendly place:

  1. Assess the technological level of the teammates by observing what types of technology they use and how proficient they are when they use that technology.  For example, do they use a smart phone for more than just making calls?  Do they understand how to add and open an email attachment?  Can they maneuver through Microsoft Word and Excel?  The answers to these questions will help you determine what level of technology skills they have, where they may need a little assistance and what you can learn from them.
  2. Create and provide user-friendly documents as a rule. If you are able to set rows and columns, add formulas, or create rules that auto-populate cells, your peers will have an easier time using the tools and providing the information you need in the format you want. However, don’t make things so complicated that accidently deleting content from one cell creates an error message throughout the whole spreadsheet – balance is key.
  3. Eliminate any formatting that would require trouble-shooting, or is not intuitive. Never include information, rows, or columns that your team members do not need to see in order to complete their task.
  4. Open the door to feedback.  Let your colleagues know that you are more than happy to answer questions about the tools you provided them. Include phrases like, “call me with questions” and “we will find a solution or tool that works if this one does not” in your conversations. Remember, you may think the tool is easy because you work with it all the time, but your team member may have questions when they see the document for the first time.
  5. Make it fun when teaching your team members new ways to use existing technology and software – such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, or Visio – show them simple to use short cuts that will make their task easier so they can work more effectively!

– Carolyn Pratt, Project Coordinator, HTS, Inc, CPratt@consulthts.com