Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will transform the workplace over the next few years, and major benefits for employees will include working remotely and the rise of an intergenerational workforce.
Just as the offices and factories of the 80s evolved over the years, so too will future workplaces. IT has played a significant role in the way employees operate in all sectors from manufacturing and healthcare to retail, logistics, banking and media. But going forward, it will be intelligent applications that feature prominently in the workplace and shape trends.
Effective team communication has been deemed the most important aspect of collaboration in the workplace to achieve business goals, according to a 2017 Harvard Business Review survey about digital teams.
Clayton Naidoo, GM of Cisco South Africa, offers a glimpse into what the future workplace will look like: “Digitising the workplace is all about providing the right tools for teamwork. Artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming part of every meeting, every phone call, every conversation,” he concurred.
“For example, we’ve seen an increase in the demand for collaboration tools like our Webex Teams and Webex Meetings as organisations shift from traditional work routines like face-to-face meetings and more towards using technological tools that enable remote teamwork and group projects from anywhere and at any time.”
So how will the future office function?
Bots, AI and ML will make work more intuitive than we know it today. As we move into the future, the tools we use will require little input and direction from users, and algorithms will learn our behaviour allowing for more efficient use of an employee’s time and focus.
We can also look forward to the of the “place-ism”. The idea that work can be done only in the office is a thing of the past. In the future, it is not where we work, but what we do. Today’s technologies make it possible: an employee can work from any location and decide how and where he or she can work most efficiently.
Today’s workplaces include several generations with different ways of working:
• The workforce of companies today consists mainly of baby boomers (born from 1946 to 1963) and Generation X (those born from 1964 to 1979). A generational change is already underway.
• 2011 started the retirement of the baby boom generation. Their knowledge of how the organization or the company works and how things are done is usually not tied to IT systems and usually no longer accessible to the next generation.
By 2020, nearly half of the global workforce will be Millennials (born from 1980 to 1995) and Generation Z (born from 1995 to 2000). Born into the digital age, these generations have their own ideas and working styles that the employer needs to adapt to.
• The employer currently has to provide work environments suitable for a diverse workforce of these four generations. The competition for the best talent is intense.
Today’s business challenges are getting more and more complex, creating an urgency to help teams connect and get their best work done. According to Cisco, collaboration solutions that enable an integrated workplace include three key components: workplace design, policies and technology.