The Future of Work Capsules (2)
… The relationship between emerging technologies on work, workflow, the work place and the human resource’s function
Happy Eid Mubarak.
Organizations and businesses are not what they use to be. A lot is changing for the future. We realize from our earlier conversation with the part one of this article that, we go shopping, learning, socializing, engaging, meeting and worshipping online more these days as compared to the Pre –covid-19 era. It is the central market place for most things we need, desire and want.
There is an established relationship discovered with the use of these emerging technologies on work, workflow – the work place and on the Human Resources Function. Aside digital platforms serving as our central online stores, artificial intelligence and machine learning is supporting work flow with our predictive analytics. We are tracking our progress in sports with the use of wearable devices for instance. Our sustained engagement with family, work colleagues and friends is equally supported with the use of these wearable devices. We track our heart beat, check our e-mails, even take photos and read our social media updates on our wearable devices such as smart watches just to mention but a few. Augmented and virtual reality as well as block chain has its own effect on work, work flow and the human resource function.
We are able to manage our transactional and informational exchange with block chain emerging technologies. Our role as human resource professional as established earlier will be to support employee’s up-skill and re-skill in preparation for the future. We need to learn to provide flexibility with our policies and be manful of the changing trends and the times we find ourselves. Know what time it is now HR! Managers and supervisors understand the times we are in. We are not in normal times so keep an open mind and be prepared for change the right ways. Some things may not change back to normal again. Be agile!
Our designed policies must support the employee wellbeing agenda, as this is central to our growth and development as an organization. Remember your employees offer you the biggest competitive advantage ever. Knowing and adapting to these different changing trends the right ways in the right directions is good for our growth and sustainability efforts. As we discuss the relationship between emerging technologies on work, workflow and the human resource function, where then should our focus be?
The HR function is central in the process of addressing such concerns as policies relating to employee wellbeing are to a large degree their responsibility. I say to clients in pandemic times, it’s should be normal to anticipate delay responses to correspondence for instance as most employees work from home. Many more countries are experiencing the third wave of covid-19 as others are managing lockdown turn time. Most women may have to attend to the home and children whiles working from home as well. HR need to understand the broader conversation, relate and propose practical and workable people’s policy to support employees. Indeed, some companies such as Daimler have introduced policies to encourage employees to disconnect outside of working hours (HR Magazine, 2017). However, it is difficult to enforce such ideas, and especially to balance the need for choice of when and where to work with the risk of overwork. But policy can help address the burn out. France for instance has passed “the right to disconnect” law not making it mandatory to respond to work e-mails outside normal working hours. Legislature becomes very important. As we celebrate this year’s Eid, I take this opportunity to appeal to government authorities, policy makers and HR’s to consider the effect emerging technologies has on work and evaluate vis-à-vis the relation that exist between these to support employees to excel.
The above examples suggest a role for the HR function in navigating the changes to work, the workplace and the workforce that are driven by technological advancement. However, it is important to also note that emerging technologies have been shown to also influence the way that organizations undertake their HR activities. The principal HR functions of attracting, selecting, developing, motivating and retaining talented employees in organization’s remain important, but potentially require different approaches in the future world of work (Holland & Bardoel, 2016).
Research findings suggest that emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, VR and AR, digital technologies, wearable’s and block-chain have the potential to affect work and employees significantly. The degree and speed of this impact depends to a large extent on developments in the technologies themselves and the willingness of organisations to adopt them.
The HR function has a key role to play in helping employees to navigate the changes to the world of work particularly in relation to skills development, work organisation and mental health. While the key activities involved in HRM – to support managers and employees in going about their daily work – are unlikely to change, the role of the HR function may become even more important as both the potential benefits and risks of emerging technologies for employees develop. Whether the HR function can successfully undertake this role depends upon their own skills development and their own understanding of technologies and their implications. Jesuthasan (2017) suggests that sustaining digital engagement in the future workplace will become a key part of the HR role. We would go beyond that statement and propose that actually the role of the HR function is also to develop and support employees in order to ensure their growth and wellbeing, as well as the sustainability of the organisation, against the backdrop of this technological advancement. Let’s further look at some technology trends shaping workplace, work flow and the human resource function.
Improved Digitization and Labor Flexibility
We’ re all enjoying the use of social media for instance to stay connected and monitor productivity as well as providing quick constant updates to catching up with friends and family. We’re also seeing a vast increase in digitization across board. It appears everything our time now is being digitized in this 21st century than ever and most of this can be attributed to the rising use of smartphones. When last did you purchase a hard copy magazine and journals? There are being replaced by interactive websites; traditional newsletters have been upgraded to email blasts; and most, if not all, marketing campaigns focus heavily on internet-based demographics.
All of this digital evolution is impacting the workforce in unique and exciting ways. Not only are more employers offering work-from-home opportunities than ever before, but some business models depend entirely on the internet to succeed. In either case, tech-savvy professionals who are comfortable working in online environments will continue to be in high demand in the coming months and years.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Cyber security efforts
This theory is one of the key driving forces behind modern video gaming and this generation’s interactive apps. Without it, our smartphones would return to their earlier “dumb” state if not for AI. Our fear of AI and its potential to replace jobs is a legitimate fear. However, the way you view the glass is very important. Is it half-full or half –empty. That view will support your thinking and reality check. AI can equally serve as a potential boom to productivity and efficiency at work. The reality however is that some jobs will be automated and phased out. When last did you walk into a banking hall to perform a financial transaction? When last did you recharge your phone with voice or data cards for instance?. A lot is changing be agile.
We can equally benefit from machine learning as well. Devices like smartphones and smart home appliances are capable of learning new things and supporting our work systems. In the workforce, machines can learn new tasks on an assembly line, incorporate new safety standards or even perform jobs of increasing scope and responsibility. Cyber security trainings should be considered in the light of these.
5G, Cloud-Based Tools and the Right Tech Solution
Flexible work arrangements aren’t possible without supportive technology. Cloud-based tools, such as ERP systems, document sharing apps, and other popular office technologies will drive this shift in working habits, as they enable employees to communicate and share information regardless of location. Reach out for support on use of the right tool and solution for your business. It is still 5G or 5G? At the time most African countries head first of 5G, China was already researching and preparing to launch 6G. What is the next big advancement in mobile technology? With great improvements in speed, performance and reliability to mobile phone usage for instance we can estimate merit and demerits for a future global workforce. Some estimates are forecasted that 5G will have 100 times the speed of 4G. In that context, it is easy to see how 5G will benefit the mobile workforce. Just as there are benefits, so are there demerits. The radiation effect and its link to disease cannot be overemphasized. Cancer is on the ascendency and we must learn how to manage these trending sci-tech technologies and tools. As we develop policy we must be mindful of our number one client – our employees. Continuous and sustained use of these gadgets such as mobile phones and more can have effect on the employee wellbeing due to radiation challenges.
Given the significant investments in time and resources required, it’s critical that organizations choose and deploy the technology solution(s) that is the best possible fit for their needs. To commerce, know your organization, identify your unique needs, and check out the trends that offer solution and get flexible policy around them that will address the most mission-critical needs of your employees.
Baptista is a human resource professional with a broad generalist background. Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling! She is a Hybrid Professional, HR Generalist, strategic planner, innovative, professional connector and a motivator. You can reach her via e-mail on [email protected] You can follow this conversation on our social media pages Facebook / LinkedIn/ Twitter / Instagram: FoReal HR Services. Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313. Follow the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC