Is digital technology overwhelming your employees — and those of your clients?
A group of industry movers and shakers thinks so. To do something about it, they recently formed the Humanizing the Digital Workplace Consortium.
The group’s aim: to study the mismatch between technology and workers. And to identify solutions and offer guidance for improvement.
To kick things off, consortium members made 7 predictions for how the digital workforce will change in the new year. How many of them do you think will affect you and your customers?
1. Remote work improves: Never mind the companies (like IBM) that are restricting work-at-home policies. Consortium member Amy Morin, a psychotherapist who also lectures at Northeastern University, predicts more organizations will give employees the power to choose their location during work hours.
New processes and tools will make it possible, Morin expects. They’ll optimize the remote-worker experience by implementing new processes that get workers more engaged.
2. Humanity gets augmented: Artificial intelligence is just getting started. Next, we’ll see augmented human intelligence reshaping the very nature of work, predicts consortium member R “Ray” Wang, founder and chairman of Constellation Research.
Work tasks will be divided into 2 categories, Wang believes. In 1 group will be tasks that are repetitive, high-volume and involving lots of nodes and complexity. These tasks will be automated with AI, he says. The other group will comprise tasks that call for creativity, new levels of complexity and physical presence. These will remain with humans.
3. Working from the backseat: Once self-driving cars are abundant, how will we keep busy during our long commutes? By doing some work, of course! So predicts consortium member Paul Root Wolpe, a professor at the Emory Center for Ethics. In fact, Wolpe believes, backseat workstations will soon be quite similar to what people now have in the office.
4. Analytics applied here: Workers will increasingly be monitored by systems that not only observe their progress (that’s done already), but also analyze their behavior. So predicts consortium member Alexandra Levit, a workplace author, speaker and consultant.
In this way, Levit adds, analytics will help managers determine which workers are most productive, as well as who’s likely to either stay or quit the job.
5. The end of 9-to-5: Today’s younger workers focus on results, not punching the clock. That’s why consortium member Aaron Levy, founder and CEO of Raise the Bar Consulting, predicts that a new workplace mentality will emerge. The emphasis will be not on working regular hours, but on finishing the job — even if that takes only half the day.
6. Finding (and keeping) the modern employee: For more on today’s younger workers, consortium member Manfred Leu, a director of IT at Swiss Re, predicts they’ll start getting picky about who they work for. Millennial and GenZ workers, he says, will choose employers based on their work environment and culture.
To attract and retain these workers, he adds, forward-thinking managers will need to keep them inspired and surprised with user-friendly solutions and exceptional service.
7. AI gets pragmatic: Is artificial intelligence going to take all our jobs? Not according to David Lavenda, VP of marketing and product strategy at harmon.ie.
Lavenda believes AI can instead be used to power cloud-computing applications that anticipate and provide the information a worker needs to complete a task. In this way, he adds, AI can actually help humanize technology.