Critical challenges of the changing workforce

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Technology is changing the very nature of work, impacting the traditional workforce as well as the fundamentals of workplace design. It is resulting in the development of smarter machines every other year which will lead to the future of work. Businesses that keep up with the digital revolution by embracing this new normal through upskilling their workforce are set to win this marathon.

Where are we today?

Digital technology is ubiquitous with smart devices, 3D printing, sensors, cognitive computing, and the Internet of Things making inroads into the businesses. There is a deeper integration of robotics and cognitive learning in organisations at multiple levels. This has allowed automation to replace manual work creating a significant need for new skills and digital know-how in the workforce.

Implication of Technological Transformation

Technological proliferation in terms of automation, cloud computing, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) has witnessed rapid adoption across industries in a multitudinous dimension. Utilising these technologies has resulted in improved efficiency and speedy delivery of work. Industry giants such as Google, Microsoft have paved the way by integrating AI-run infrastructures at their workplaces. While Google created its famed work culture by using Hangouts, shared document technology and everyday AI office tools, Microsoft set an example by integrating its own products Microsoft 365 and Microsoft AI in every vertical to drive efficiency. These technologies have streamlined work, enabled remote access and set people free from carrying out repetitive tasks. Along with AI, high capacity mobile devices have enhanced coordination and collaboration between teams and made work flexible. Thus, technology-integrated workspaces have ensured elevated employee experience.

Measuring the Inference

Executives across industries and geographies have sensed the upheaval being caused by technology and the need for upgradation of workforce skills. Surveys indicate that majority of them believe that systems and operations in organisations will be extensively embedded with technology in the coming five to ten years.  They expect there will be a great requirement for new skills in the workforce.

Acknowledging the need to create workforce competency

Business leaders need to prepare for the technology-driven future of work. They have to provide them with opportunities and platforms to upskill. They must acknowledge that the technological wave would require an emphasis on workers’ creativity, cognitive abilities, and social and emotional skills. Businesses like Amazon, Walmart have embraced technologies such as robotics in their shipping facilities, AI for shopping assistance, and invested in creating a technically fluent workforce.  If others don’t follow suit, they will miss the bus in optimising innovations in technology.

Building the bridge towards the future of work through upskilling

Changing the way organisations hire, upskill and retrain workers is the key step in developing competency. Businesses need to invest in giving people the platform to learn new skills and in developing models to retrain them. They must ensure that employees can learn on the job and benefit from partnering with smart machines. Smart machines liberate employees from menial work so they can focus on developing their creativity and cognitive abilities. Technologies mentioned below are just drops in the ocean of digital transformation.

  • High capacity systems: Tablets, PCs and servers compute complex data in no time and analyse and make accurate predictions.
  • AI and VR: Machines implanted with knowledge and learning augment workforce performance, VR helps in mobility by providing anywhere anytime access to the workspace.
  • Sensors: They track factors such as temperature, humidity, numbers of hours employees work to optimise for a holistic environment.

Organisations need to partner with policymakers and the public sector to chart a course in building new skills in budding talents. If businesses set their goals to upskill workforce they will lower the chances of there being a mismatch between ever-evolving technology and workforce competency in the near future.