The future workplace: Will robots displace us all?
Can it be automated? If you’re not already asking this question, you should
A recent McKinsey analysis found that half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055. In the span of a few short years, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) technology and advanced data analytics have re-written the rules of how we work. Advances in virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) will transform the workplace further. Over the next three years, 85 percent of organizations plan to invest extensively in AI-related technologies. Then, there are new technologies to consider that don’t even exist yet.
While technology may alter how work gets done, it’s unlikely robots will displace us all.
The most likely scenario: new jobs will emerge, and the work that people and machines do will become more interconnected but will still often require a human touch.
Technology developments will challenge our thinking about where people work, how they work and what they do. So how do you develop a strong workforce strategy with this level of uncertainty?
The more fluid workplace of the future requires a new mindset: rigidity is out; agility is in. Smart workplace strategists are asking:
How will work change, not if it will change
Robots are already prevalent throughout manufacturing; now automation is impacting administrative and white-collar jobs. Repetitive tasks, such as compliance reporting and healthcare patient registration, are being automated through cognitive computing and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Virtual assistants and virtual robotic agents can now schedule appointments and have voice chats with customers. Forward-thinking organizations are testing how new technologies can be incorporated into smart buildings to improve productivity, personalize the workspace, and usher in new skills that will be required to support changing business models.
Where should automation priorities lie?
Virtual networks of talent are becoming the norm and the traditional 9-5 job working at a cubicle is disappearing. As this shift continues, organizations are looking both within and outside their walls create a network of diverse spaces that enable workers, regardless of where they sit, to be productive, engaged and happy at work. Flexibility is a priority in future workforce planning.
How can we better support a culture of innovation?
There is no time to get comfortable anymore. New technologies are often seen as a competitive threat; instead, ask how they can be harnessed, whether it’s to improve productivity, performance or efficiency. Forward-thinking companies are optimizing their space to foster a culture of innovation, which can include anything from more collaboration areas to lounges and cafes where employees can unwind and connect in a more informal fashion.
What questions will we ask 10 years from now? Will you be managing a team of robots? The only sure thing is that technology will continue to be a disruptive force. You can embrace technology as a partner in this new terrain, or resist change and risk being a relic of the past.