If the year was 1995 and you were to ask anyone, even a tech visionary, about what the workforce of the future would be capable of, they’d be hard pressed to arrive where we are now. Individuals in a wide variety of disciplines are working in ways that are more productive, more capable and more mobile than ever before. However, in many ways, modern-day workers are still held back by the technology and working habits of yesteryear. Landline phones, desktop computers and office cubicles are increasingly becoming things of the past. The future seems to be capitalizing on the three aspects mentioned above: productivity, capability and mobility.
- Mobility. Advances in mobility are going to decrease interaction time between employees, yet increase productivity at the same time.
- Productivity. Continued advances in technology will produce better, faster tools for a globally connected workforce to work with.
- Capability. Employees will better understand the tools they need to accomplish business goals through both more comprehensive training and more intuitive user interfaces.
The Digital Workforce’s Four Areas of Advancement
The advances in mobility, productivity and capability mentioned above will take place as a result of innovation in four sectors:
- Sharing Economy. The sharing economy is already here. It is defined by collaborative consumption as demonstrated by brands like Uber and AirBNB. These brands encourage people who already own things to use them commercially. 63 percent of global employees plan on entering the sharing economy in the next year, either as consumers, sellers or both.
- AR/VR. Virtual reality as seen in countless science fiction films is only a few steps away from becoming a part of employees’ daily lives. It’s already being used in training applications in a select few disciplines, but its range of applications continues to increase. Mobile offices with AV/VR capabilities will be the final step towards rendering the traditional office cubicle obsolete.
- Artificial Intelligence. Advances in AI are poised to transform the way people do business on all levels, but introduce the possibility of job loss that many employees rightly fear. It is very likely that entry-level positions in many industries will be automated in ways never before possible.
- Internet of Things. As time goes on, increased connectivity between devices combined with artificial intelligence will amplify the amount of work that a single individual can do. It makes remote work even more capable of producing results previously limited to a centralized office.
The workforce of the future will use these tools to automate the vast majority of business processes that do not need immediate human attention. This can include everything from logistics to scheduling; artificially intelligent digital assistants will perform mundane tasks and even resolve issues on their own when possible. It seems like the workforce of the future may consist of two broad categories of workers: Those who tell software what to do, and those who are told what to do by software.
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