The office of the future will not be totally automated, nor will it be filled with millennials. The trends that we’ll discuss in this review suggest that the nature of how work gets done in the future is, in many ways, still unknown. What is known is that it’s changing, and the new worker of the future will have more tools than ever and will be more comfortable using them. Additionally, the environment for the office worker of the future will be mixed, and research suggests there are fast moving trends that are about to converge that could change everything.
The No-Collar Workforce
Automation, smart technologies, and digital disruption are happening and will continue to change the workplace landscape. In 2012, the term "no-collar workforce" was used to describe millennials who preferred to work remotely with a digital dashboard, removed from the confines of the typical office. Today in an article from Deloitte, the term refers to the collaboration of people and machine thinking. The article entitled "No-collar workforce: Humans and machines in one loop—collaborating in roles and new talent models," was written by Anthony Abbatiello, Tim Boehm, Jeff Schwartz, and Sharon Chand. They write:
"Consider this: In a survey conducted for Deloitte’s 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, more than 10,000 HR and business leaders across 140 countries were asked about the potential impact of automation on the future of work. Only 20 percent said they would reduce the number of jobs at their companies. Most respondents (77 percent) said they will either retrain people to use new technology or will redesign jobs to better take advantage of human skills. Recent Deloitte UK research suggests that despite inroads by digital and smart technologies in the workplace, essential 'human' skills will remain important for the foreseeable future."
The diagram below underscores this thinking that there will be no single one way to integrate people and machines or new AI technologies. The sharing of work will be a collaboration of mindset.
Analysis, empathy, creativity and the ability to change expression and position on a topic leaves much room for human while the speed and logic and smarts of AI and automation make what people think and discern move faster with higher relevance.
Collaboration, Not Competition
The authors also include various case studies on early adopters that are taking the lead in developing a no-collar workforce and environment. That percentage is small, and 83% are still looking for answers. They write: “Building a no-collar workforce requires deliberate planning. Machines and humans can work well together if you anticipate the challenges, and put in place the resources and governance to make all elements of the hybrid workforce successful. The following initial steps can provide a framework for deconstructing existing roles into underlying jobs, determining which are uniquely human and which can be redesigned for augmentation.”
- Assess your needs: Is the no-collar trend a viable option for your company? Remember: Let needs, not technology, drive your strategy.
- Understand how work currently gets done: This informational baseline will help you challenge your own assumptions about existing processes.
- Categorize skills and tasks: Define the difference between skills that only humans have and nonessential tasks that machines can perform.
- Investigate tools and tactics: What new advances appear on the horizon? The speed of technological innovation is bringing disruptive tools online faster than ever.
- Easy does it or full steam ahead?: Different smart technologies require different approaches. Are you sufficiently ambitious to explore opportunities?
Knowledge Teams of the Future
For professional services firms, technology advances in PSA are already impacting the speed and accuracy of how work is managed and how margins are measured. Connecting the CRM with the GL through an Operational System of Record is an emerging trend that is becoming a mainstay in the Service Level Economy.
It’s not only about the technology; it’s also about the people. Yes, AI is speeding through new systems, giving us dashboards that can predict what we want before we want it, but the management of these dashboards will soon be run by Generation Z which is now graduating college and will soon be flooding the workplace. It’s predicted that this generation will change everything. More on this trend to come.