The Future Workplace – Are You Ready?
The following post is by WFI board member, Jeanne C Meister, Partner at Future Workplace and Co-author of The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.
The future of work is about developing a workplace that emotionally connects to employees and customers, understands the impact of technology on the workplace and provides myriad ways to learn and grow on the job.
This is the call to action of my latest book, written with my colleague Kevin J. Mulcahy, The Future Workplace Experience. In our book, we include findings from The Future Workplace Forecast, a survey of 2,147 global HR leaders and Hiring Managers across seven countries and ten industries probing new practices companies are using to adapt to the future workplace.
We summarize these practices into ten rules to master disruption in the workplace. Here are three of those rules:
1. Make the Workplace an Experience: The essence of making the workplace an experience is to integrate all the components of work—the emotional, the intellectual, the physical, the technological and the cultural – into one seamless experience. The goal: the employee experience should mirror the best customer experience. Companies that excel at making the workplace an experience listen to what their employees and customers are saying, and then makes changes based on that feedback. One example of this is the Empathy Lab at Facebook, which gives Facebook engineers the chance to experience for themselves how employees and customers will use their products giving them an emotional connection to their customers. There is growing evidence that businesses are more profitable when they are empathetic to the needs of their customers. In fact, the top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index 2016 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings.
2. Pilot Artificial Intelligence in HR: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge market, predicted to surge from $8 billion this year to $47 billion by 2020, according to IDC. Some say it resembles the Internet in the mid 1990’s, and will be built into all kinds of products and services. Marketers are already using chatbots—or artificial intelligence computer programs designed to simulate a conversation through written or spoken text—to deliver personalized conversational experiences. One interesting new use case for chatbots is as learning assistants in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where the number of learners can range from hundreds to thousands. In 2016, Georgia Institute of Technology used chatbot Jill Watson as a teaching assistant for a MOOC entitled, Knowledge Based Artificial Intelligence. According to Dr. Goel, the professor leading the MOOC, chatbot Jill Watson was able to answer 40% of student’s most frequently asked questions within one year, freeing the human Teaching Assistants to answer more complex questions. In addition to providing intelligent assistance during a course, AI can also help personalize the learning experience by capturing data and applying machine learning algorithms to create a Netflix-like learning experience where learning opportunities are recommended based on a user’s specific areas of interest.
3. Create Accessible On Demand Learning: According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, 65% of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that currently do not exist. This indicates that being a serial learner, constantly looking for new ways to grow and develop on the job, is now a requirement to stay employable. To enable serial learning, a growing number of companies are creating virtual corporate universities that combine a company’s proprietary courses with curated, publically available learning from MOOCs, Ted Talks, podcasts and blogs, to create a personalized learning pathway for learners. Creating more opportunities to access on-demand learning will continue to grow in importance as CEO’s like Randall Stephenson of AT&T challenge workers with this mandate: “Spend 5-10 hours a week learning online or become obsolete.” The message is clear: being a serial learner will help you to avoid technological unemployment.
The new world of work is not something we see in the future: it’s here. HR leaders must take action to prepare themselves, their teams and their organization for a workplace which requires constant upskilling, piloting new technologies and creating a culture where the workplace is an experience valued by both workers and their leaders.
I love the idea of the “Empathy Lab” at Facebook that helps employees acquire insight about how their customers experience Facebook. What’s your organization doing to get ready for the workplace of the future?