Four Pillars for Shaping the Future of Work

Collins English Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2023, and most definitely a word we find ourselves hearing on a daily basis, was “AI” – now on everyone’s lips in every boardroom around the world. 

There aren’t many professions that will escape the impact of artificial intelligence, with the World Economic Forum predicting 85 million jobs will be lost by 2025.

Yet, despite these shocking statistics and widespread publicity, companies are still unsure how to begin to tackle the enormous technological changes that lie ahead. 

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In this article I will explore what I feel are the four pillars of change needed for the future of work.  

  1. Accepting Change: 

By nature, humans are resistant to change, which means employees at all levels of your organization may need to be nurtured on why and how transformation is a necessity.  In an era characterized by technological disruption and demographic shifts, organizations must embrace a change mindset as a fundamental aspect of economic success.  

Research shows one of the biggest reasons for digital transformation not working is vague goals, while staff not liking the new technology was also a contributing factor in failure. Convincing staff from the outset is a key priority for ensuring everyone is working towards the same objective of meeting your company’s future challenges.  Employees must be fully onboard with a new way of operating, and discussions should be held at every level regarding the type of technology and new processes that will be introduced. One way to do this is to establish a Center of Excellence to oversee transformation which includes not just people in IT or the C-suite, but each department – from marketing and HR to sales and finance. Transparency in communications is paramount.   

  1. Understanding Future Skills Gaps:  

The relentless pace of technological advancement demands agile talent planning strategies, where organizations continuously assess their skill requirements against market trends.  

Through constant skills assessment and gap analysis, employers can identify areas where their workforce may need bolstering to remain competitive. For example, automation of invoice processing may lead to accounts payable staff moving onto more analytical roles or require training for a more customer-facing position. By investing in reskilling and upskilling programs, companies not only future-proof their workforce but also empower employees to adapt to changing demands. 

This proactive approach will enhance employees’ flexibility and cultivate a culture of continuous learning. Encouraging employees to embrace this mindset positions them as agile contributors, capable of navigating and thriving in an ever-evolving professional landscape. 

Recruitment strategies may also need to change to fill new positions. For example, global tech recruiter Karat started offering interviews outside of business hours and at weekends and found that 42% of women of color scheduled after hours, resulting in a more diverse set of applicants and different skills. Adopting a remote or flexible work model will also widen the talent pool and provide more bespoke expertise through the elimination of geographical barriers.

And it’s not just tech training that staff may need. With artificial intelligence taking on a lot of boring tasks, frontline workers must be more creative, critical, agile, empathetic, and knowledgeable problem solvers. 

Viewing reskilling and upskilling as an opportunity for both employer and employee ensures sustained competitiveness in the market, fostering mutual growth and success. 

  1. Understanding large language models (LLMs) and Generative AI:  

Generative AI has had a significant impact on the workforce since ChatGPT was introduced in November 2022.

Everyone from developers to marketing staff is using LLMs to augment their duties – sometimes without their business leaders’ knowledge.

And despite almost three quarters of employees admitting to using the technology, a third say they are left to fend for themselves with little or no guidance from their employers. What’s more worrying is that employees are also putting corporate confidential data into the AI powered tool– which could prove costly and a security risk. 

Companies should consider making use of the many free online learning opportunities that offer courses from the ground up on generative AI and large language models, as well as beginner courses on AI or other more advanced AI tuition.

However, it’s important to remember that the key lies in adopting AI at a pace that is both calculated and sustainable for the company and workforce. 

Purpose-built AI solutions for example can effectively tackle real business challenges, without the risks associated with LLMs and liberate employees from mundane, repetitive tasks to enable them to focus on work that leverages their skills and passions.  

This shift not only enhances productivity and performance but also fosters a more fulfilling work environment where employees derive greater satisfaction and work-life balance. It isn’t about replacing the workforce; it’s about empowering them to excel in their areas of expertise while AI handles routine tasks. 

  1. Embracing Digital Assistants:  

Gartner estimates that almost half of knowledge workers will use digital assistants by 2025. This integration of digital assistants into the workplace represents a paradigm shift in human-AI interaction. These AI-powered tools augment human capabilities by providing real-time insights, streamlining tasks, and enhancing overall productivity.  

By leveraging natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, digital assistants facilitate seamless communication and collaboration between employees and technology. This interaction simplifies complex processes and fosters a more intuitive and user-friendly work environment.  

But you will need to build a partnership between a robust digital workforce and human counterparts as this digital-human double act is crucial for meeting or exceeding business goals and accelerating transformation.

Moreover, digital assistants adapt to individual preferences and learning patterns, ensuring personalized support tailored to each user’s needs. As employees become more accustomed to working alongside these intelligent systems, they develop a deeper understanding of AI’s potential and can harness its capabilities to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in their daily tasks. The integration of digital assistants represents a pivotal step towards maximizing human-AI synergy in the workplace, driving innovation, and promoting a culture of continuous improvement. 

As we stand on the brink of a workplace revolution, organizations are challenged to adapt to the evolving landscape of work, prominently shaped by the advent of AI.  

Despite the prominence of this discussion, many businesses find themselves at a crossroads, uncertain about how best to navigate these shifts. However, by embracing change, addressing future skills shortages, integrating AI strategically, and preparing employees for digital collaboration—enterprises can position themselves for resilience and growth in the face of technological disruption.

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