What will the working world look like in 2030? Will jobs be manned by wo/men, or machines? This week, we’re surveying the battle of tech vs. talent and posing an alternative reality, in which two heads (one human, one hardware), are better than one.
For years, one question has preoccupied the working world unlike any other conundrum or concern: will robots make the human workforce redundant? Or, in other words, will machine-based innovations become so effective that the human mind will, in essence, no longer be needed to perform operational tasks? More importantly, is such a shift truly in the best interest of companies, their employees, and their customers?
It is clear that, over the past several years, machines have assumed greater roles in our everyday lives, from the metaverse enabling more immersive consumer experiences, when shopping online, to wearables empowering better (hybrid or remote) healthcare. It is also clear that despite these innovations being integrated into many industries, talent shortages remain. Across the board, companies are searching to fill a myriad of leadership, specialist, and other hard-to-place positions. Yet, candidates aren’t exactly running to fill them.
Could it be that this so-called “conflict” between wo/man and machine is, instead, a complementary approach and a harbinger of a more seamless, productive, and satisfactory future for the working world and all its stakeholders?
When faced with talent shortages, human error, and complex tasks that take employees away from other business-critical activities, it seems only natural that companies would want to integrate technology into their operations. Grocery chains have integrated self-checkout counters to allow customers to pay and parcel their purchases on their own, eliminating the need for cashiers who’d rather scroll through social media than scan cans and produce, and instead employing just one person to oversee the technology runs smoothly, and no one attempts to cheat the system. ATMs and mobile banking apps allow account holders to manage their finances around the clock, eliminating the human error involved in processing transactions. Unmanned factories are reducing injuries on the job while increasing productivity, and AI and cloud-based software are simplifying complex tasks related to bookkeeping, information security, data analysis, e-commerce, and many other industries.
With the surge in demand for contactless and remote services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic across industries and sectors, including in low-tech industrial organizations having robots replace or at least reduce human labor may not only be smarter, it could also be instrumental in saving lives, from a health perspective.
Regardless of the reasons highlighted above, and despite the fact that machines ARE being used instead of people for various tasks and purposes, executives continue to express distrust in technology’s ability to be better than good old-fashioned human intuition. While AI and other technologies have been adopted to enable smarter data collection, analysis, and insight generation, and even for some lower-level decision-making, when it comes to those decisions that matter most - strategic decisions linked to building relationships with partners, rethinking products and services, allocating resources (human and monetary), etc., executives simply aren’t ready to cut the cord on human opinions and actions.
This, despite the ongoing talent shortage, across industries and fields. Executives are (And should) continue to fight to recruit talents, as nothing can really replace human motivation, passion, and intuition. In fact, as technological innovation continues to surge, the need for a human touch will necessarily grow, in tandem, with machines filling routine and predictable roles with greater speed and at lower costs, and human employees building upon them to bring greater value to the company, especially in customer-facing interactions.
Or, in simpler terms, replacing humans with robots would be a mistake. Integrating innovative technologies into companies to empower employees and enable them to build trust is in everyone’s best interest.
For the future of work to include both human employees and technological advances, certain fundamental changes to the present-day working environment must be made. After all, innovation is about more than just hardware and software solutions; it’s about adapting to the changing times to continuously fulfill needs and bring value to the company, its partners, and its customers. The high-tech industry is considered to be more future-forward in this respect, which is why more and more talents are looking to land jobs in the high-tech, as opposed to in other industries that may also utilize technology to generate a competitive advantage.
The days of full-time, in-office working in jobs that bring no satisfaction or balance to employees’ lives are gone (whether you like it or not). Flexible work models, through which employees are given space to express themselves and actively participate in company culture and operations, are key. This is already being implemented, in terms of RPO work contracts and the hybrid workplace approach.
Greater diversity is bringing more opinions and, therefore, more opportunities for success, to brainstorming sessions across sectors, and transparency is setting the stage for employees and customers alike to trust and engage in long-term relationships with companies. Employer branding is being leveraged to show potential candidates that a particular company has adapted to the “new normal,” and employee wellness programs are offered to bring balance to the workplace.
At Hunter, we understand that companies may feel conflicted about integrating machines into their daily operations. We also understand that the ongoing talent shortage may create undue pressure to adopt technology, without fully feeling ready to bring it on board. We make it our mission to help candidates and companies make strategic decisions and form long-term relationships that make the most out of human and tech-based resources, so all parties involved can make their way towards 2030, as innovative and satisfied on the job, as (humanly) possible.
Are you ready to make the most of your wo/men and machines? Let’s connect.
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