The future of work: The augmented workforce

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The future of work: The augmented workforce

Driven by the escalation of connectivity and cognitive technology, the nature of work is changing. The advancement of AI systems, robotics and cognitive tools have led to an “augmented workforce”. This trend is set to accelerate and organisations will have to reassess how they create jobs, organise work and plan for future growth.

In 2017, these transformations have come into focus and the issue has become increasingly compelling. Automation, cognitive computing and crowds are paradigm-shifting forces that will shift workforce now and in the near future. Organisations are re-creating jobs that will now involve cognitive systems and robots, and relook about the “essentially human skills” required within jobs.

In 2017 and beyond, organisations will have to experiment and implement cognitive tools, focus heavily on retraining people to use these tools and revisit the role of people as work become increasingly automated.

Rethinking work for the augmented workforce

At present, there is a new emphasis on the “people aspects” of work. Research shows that while tasks are being automated, the “people aspects” of work are becoming increasingly important. While some are quick to point out  the negative impacts of AI, cognitive computing and robotics, these new technologies will also help to create new jobs, boost productivity and allow employees to focus on the human aspects of work. Therefore, how can companies achieve the greatest total value through automation while balancing the short- and long-term consequences of these decisions for their organisation, work and workforce?

Where do companies stand today?

Research shows that most companies are the midst of this fundamental shift. 31 percent of companies that participated in the Global Human Capital Trends survey revealed that they are in the process of implementing AI and robotics and 34 percent are piloting selected areas. Only 10 percent say that they are either fully automated or highly advanced in this area.

Most companies have said to either retrain people to use technology or redesign jobs to better take advantage of human skills, but they are less prepared for the “new human models” for the future of work. Therefore, while some aspects of the future of work are well comprehended by business leaders, others are still in an emerging stage of understanding.

Uneven progress towards the future workforce

The shift from full-time employees to an augmented workforce is currently one of the more challenging human capital trends. While the adoption of robotics is happening quickly, companies are still lacking the capability to reskill and reorganise around automation. Approximately half of the leaders surveyed rate their companies as being weak at aligning competency frameworks to account for new robotics, cognitive and AI requirements, utilizing employees replaced by these technologies and reskilling employees to complement these new tools.

Rethinking talent, technology and the workplace

Research revealed the need for us to broaden our vision of the workforce and think about jobs in the context of tasks that can be automated and new role of human skills. Organisations will also have to increase their focus on customer experience, employee experience and employment value proposition for people.

Rethinking the boundaries of work between humans and machines

Robots and cognitive technologies are making progressive advances, particularly in jobs that follow set, standardised rules and logic. This reinforces a critical challenge for business and HR leaders. HR leaders will have to look into defining the difference between fundamental human skills such as creative and ethical thinking, and non-essential tasks that can be managed by machines.

Source: Deloitte

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