If you are old enough to remember flower power and disco, you probably remember the birth of what we now consider modern technology. Way back then, it was assumed that all of the new technology would lead to an overabundance of leisure time. Instead, we seem to work harder than ever. Technology has made us so much more efficient that we have more time to get more things done.
When you combine work responsibilities and our personal lives, there is a lot to do. Many seem to be running back and forth day after day. Fortunately, self-service technology can help. Giving people self-service tools that enable them to do what needs to be done on their own time and schedule gives them some of their precious time back.
Self-Service at the Fuel Station
One of the earliest examples of self-service technology was the self-service fuel station. Remember back in the 1950s when fueling up the car also meant getting the oil checked, the windshield washed, and the tires topped off with air? By the 1970s, that kind of service was a thing of the past. Instead, gas stations utilized a single attendant to fill every car.
During peak times, you could wait what would today be considered a long time to get your car filled. Then came self-serve. You could pump your own gas in a fraction of the time you would have waited for the attendant.
This illustration is fairly basic and not indicative of modern technology, but it makes the point. By giving consumers a self-service option, fueling stations got customers back on the road more quickly. We can apply the same sort of thing to modern technology.
Self-Service at Work
Being a payroll and benefits administration supplier, we are particularly interested in how self-service technologies can improve the workplace. To us, it is all about payroll and HR solutions. For example, imagine every employee having an online account through which personal information is managed.
When an employee has a change, like a new address for example, there is no need to set aside half-an-hour during the workday to get with HR. The employee simply logs in to his self-service account and changes his address. He is done under 5 minutes. Best of all, it doesn't even have to be tackled at work. The employee can do it any time.
Self-service technologies at work let employees check their most recent pay stubs. They can view their pay history and tax contributions. They can change their withholding options. All of it can be done without having to pay a visit to HR.
Self-Serve Tax Preparation
A logical extension of the self-service employee portal is self-service tax preparation. Come January, employees can download their W-2 forms by logging on to their personal accounts. Then they can go online or purchase tax preparation software, using the information from their digital W-2 forms to complete their tax returns.
Now, instead of having to sit in a tax preparer's office for 2 to 3 hours, the employee can prepare his or her own taxes in under an hour. Documents can be filed electronically as well. And when the tax refund comes, it can be directly deposited into the employee's bank account.
Modern technology is such that tax preparation in 2019 is a lot more efficient and time friendly then it was just 20 years ago. People are spending less time on their taxes and more time doing other things.
Indeed, we are now in the era of self-service. That is a good thing. Self-service technologies are giving people more of their time back.