Finding the secret ingredients to what drives employee productivity, engagement, and how to help them thrive in a digital age is something that has eluded leaders and HR teams for years. Whether it be the latest PCs, tablets, smartphones, or online tools that enable the flexibility to work anywhere and anytime, it is aligning our changing habits and the culture of a business that remains notoriously challenging.
However, maybe we need to look beyond devices and software if we really want to shake up the status quo and transform the way everyone works. What tangible results does giving an employee an iPad or Microsoft Surface Pro offer? Outside of having Outlook, Word, and Excel readily available, there are still many employees who are not using the right tools to be more efficient and complete more work in less time.
Very often it’s businesses that are to blame for keeping legacy applications that are incredibly cumbersome for users and have not been updated in the last 3-5 years. When you consider how much our world has changed in that short time, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that many employees seldom explore beyond the basics of emails, spreadsheets, and documents.
As we continue to adopt voice recognition and digital assistants in our homes, there is an argument that we are finally setting ourselves free from staring down at screens while frantically clicking a mouse. But if voice, motion recognition, digital pens, and touchscreens make staff more productive, shouldn’t employers investigate how technology can enable them to be more efficient and productive?
The rise of business-orientated, voice-based virtual assistants like our own Amelia here at IPsoft already changing the corporate landscape. Rather than replacing human colleagues, Amelia is a digital employee that works with a team to reduce unnecessary repetitive tasks and amplify team potential.
We are currently witnessing the rise of on-demand expertise through AI assistants. By dividing all tasks smartly between humans and machines, this new unlikely partnership dramatically increases both productivity and efficiency. However, it is not the technology itself that should be getting all of the headlines, it’s the fact that as humans we are starting to learn that by working together and playing to our strengths we can make real progress.
Chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov once highlighted this perfectly when he spoke about how computers might be able to beat humans at chess, but it’s humans working with computers that will always be more effective than machines alone. Although this probably feels like an alien concept here in 2018, the next natural step would be a workplace where a hybrid of humans and technology is working together, seamlessly complementing the other’s skillset.
Current workers will need to hone their people skills and creativity, and upskill into strategic roles to thrive and survive in human-machine teams. In other words, get back to being human and let the machines handle the robotic tasks. Despite the regular headlines about robots taking our jobs, recent reports suggest that more and more employees are more concerned with the loss of a human connection at work than their job.
In a digital age where experiences are more important than products, employees need to feel connected as an era of automation beckons. A positive work experience involves giving employees a say in how, when, and where they work. Organizations that meet these 21st-century demands are typically rewarded with increased productivity and performance.
As employees, we often look at our work as an extension of ourselves. Rather than be treated as just another number in the office, we are now carrying the expectations from our personal lives into corporate land too. Whether it be personalized development opportunities or working hours, these new requirements are essential in building loyalty and trust.
As automation prepares to become the next workplace frontier, it’s losing our human touch, rather than our jobs, that many of us fear the most. There is no denying that employers are increasingly looking to leverage innovation opportunities through AI and automation.
However, as machines and humans prepare to work seamlessly alongside each other, the creation of unique and personalized work experiences is critical to the future success of all businesses. Sure, it will be a few years before we see the full effects of widespread automation and how it will impact the workplace, but when the moment does arrive, it will have both good and bad effects on staff.
The only question that remains is how are you going to use AI to treat your employees as unique individuals to boost productivity, engagement, and loyalty? Advances in technology should always be used to help humans, rather than replace them, and this is one lesson I would implore everyone reading this to learn sooner rather than later.