The future of work: digital workplaces, automation... and more

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Chintan Jain

Cartoon people with smart screens

Digital technologies have redefined what we mean when we use the term ‘work’. Digital platforms, automation, artificial intelligence, and other innovations are changing everything around us. As we look to the future, we know that major changes are going to take place, but what will drive the future of work and how can we prepare for it? 

By understanding these shifts, business leaders can create effective work environments through digital workplaces that can increase efficiency, improve overall productivity, and make employees feel more engaged.


Predicting the future of work 

While we cannot predict all the changes that will occur in the future of workplaces, we do have a pretty fair understanding of the things that people should prepare for. Instead of following a rather vague assumption that ‘robots will take over all the jobs,’ a better way of looking at things is to understand that when we automate repetitive tasks, it will give employees more time to focus on work that requires emotional intelligence, creativity, and imagination. 

Those who have been involved in process automation know how BPM principles have often led to increased jobs for those doing process analysis, and made work much more effective along the way. 

As new technological advancements are introduced more often, the lifespan of any given skill set has also shrunk, making it crucial for employees to constantly learn and acquire new skills. 

In just the last two decades, the share of highly skilled jobs has increased by over 25 percent and many middle skilled jobs have significantly changed. As a result, over 54 percent of employees will need significant upskilling and reskilling in the future and over 35 percent of them will need at least six months of training.

This, in turn, means employees will have to shape their own career path and pursue a diverse set of work experiences. For companies, that means they need to think differently when it comes to recruiting and hiring new employees since they might be assessing for skills that are going to be automated in the near future. 


Decentralized workforce, but a centralized workplace

The influx of millennials entering and now managing the global workforce is making companies change their working style. For employees, remote working and a better work-life balance has now emerged as a basic requirement that they expect from their employers. 

99 percent of employees who don’t work remotely yet, state that they would want to work remotely at least once in their careers. That means setting up a decentralized and remote workforce isn’t just an option for companies any more, it is a necessity. 

However, while the place that people sit while they work has changed dramatically, the place where their digital work happens is starting to coalesce into a single space. If you define a digital workplace as the set of digital tools an employee must use to complete their work, many organizations fail miserably at having those tools in the same platform, let alone able to trade data effectively. 

Progressive organizations are on the lookout for a more unified digital workplace, free from distractions and jumping around to many different applications. When employees have a single place where you go to do their ‘work’, it improves communication and efficiency. That platform needs to have great tools for collaborating with others, coordinating work among several people, and the ability to control workflows that form the core functions of the organization. 

The idea behind a digital workplace is to give employees everything they require to be productive. As a virtual replacement of the physical office space, it helps align business processes and employees with technology in order to improve overall productivity and efficiency.

Progressive enterprises are taking cues from this trend and are readily integrating digital workplace in their business processes, at least in some way or the other establish frictionless operations while still increasing the work-life balance of employees. 


Automation is key

While organizations have already automated parts of their business processes that are repetitive in order to free up the time of their employees, combining artificial intelligence algorithms to automation can make machines the co-workers to humans. 

By incorporating intelligence, automation tools can learn, analyse and take decisions for business processes which can, in turn, help organizations navigate through complicated situations without compromising on efficiency, speed, or decision making. 

Moving toward the future

As digital technologies continue to redefine organizations and nature of work, it is important to look at trends that will shape our workplaces and the way that we will work in the future. Both automation and digital workplaces will play a big role in determining what it means to work in the future.