Looking into the future of the modern workplace is sometimes unpredictable, even if many recent technological trends give more insight than usual. Even when adding in post-COVID-19 times in the coming year, the workplace might still look different from what you’re likely used to.
In the realm of technology, the sky’s the limit. Advancements in that area the last few years keep evolving quickly, with certain technologies certain to make workplaces more efficient than ever.
Take a look at our list of future work trends and how technology like automation continues playing a big part.
What does a post-COVID-19 workplace look like in 2021?
We all know what COVID-19 did to work patterns across the globe. The Work From Home (WFH) model became a blessing and a curse for many companies. For some employees, they perhaps found comfort in finally being able to work from home to keep themselves safe. Perhaps they enjoyed not spending money on gas or spending hours in their car each day driving to and from work.
For others, WFH has been a burden due to more distractions, especially if they have young children. Most predictors of workplace trends (like Gartner) say remote working will continue being a new norm.
A Gartner poll says 48% of employees will continue working this way once COVID-19 is no longer a concern. This also signals that there is a need to invest in better technology to communicate digitally on a daily basis. With virtual meeting tools so easy to use (and some free), it does make communicating in real-time easier.
The only challenge is how to change company procedures toward a remote work plan. Use of AI and automation play a part in sending messages to get everyone on the same page.
The debate of humans vs. artificial intelligence.
Some might be troubled that AI can now do things better than humans can. This doesn’t mean bots are going to supersede humans in the workplace. What’s really happening is that the two are intertwining, thus creating a more efficient workplace. Plus, it means expanding knowledge when you add things like automated help desks.
Thanks to machine learning advancing to a higher level, many laborious tasks your human staff had to handle in the past can now be done by AI. It now leaves room for your employees to do more important tasks that require higher level thinking.
Machine learning can now take on more complicated, time-consuming tasks. In the realm of a help desk, this is very important if you continually deal with backlogs on help tickets.
Even better is the advent of chatbots to help customers and employees solve problems. These also work in-tandem with human employees.
It’s quite amazing how chatbots sound almost like a real person now when in conversation. While maybe not at the level of HAL 9000 in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s closer than ever.
There is a difference on machine learning effectiveness, though, based on the company. Some companies are simply grafting machine learning into their existing systems. Many of those systems are also outdated, hence not making AI work as effectively as it could.
A trend already begun is to build machine learning from scratch so it’s smarter, like designing a real brain. Using key algorithms, and the use of technology like Natural Language Processing (NLP) expands the intelligence level of chatbots.
Only select companies are making chatbots smarter than they were a few years ago. Soon, many of those will be indistinguishable from a human. Some customers may think they’re chatting to someone real and may never really know it’s not real.
Data collection for knowledge management.
Data collection and knowledge management are two different things, but they do work together in making the latter become more effective in companies. Expanded data collection is now a major tech trend, something automation helps with in the age of remote working.
The more data is collected at a company, the better automation will be. The data is stored in the knowledge base and can be recalled through AI-powered chatbots.. Despite knowledge management having numerous definitions, it really comes down to facilitating collaboration and using technology to extract information when needed.
In other words, expect knowledge management to refine how people get information at the right time. Much of this is already underway, but there is still more room to grow.
The evolution of knowledge management involves carefully strategizing and deciding what kind of knowledge the company values.
Use of robotic process automation.
At the center of machine learning is the ability to remove repetitive tasks from the workplace. Many of the tasks that took up far too much time can now be done by machine learning and AI, giving a chance for companies to grow faster.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is another branch of this and becoming the future trend in the machine learning side of technology. Everyday processes now become fully automated, turning productivity up a few notches.
Prior to making RPA so readily available, it was only available to engineers in companies. Now it’s being integrated into employee-operated automated platforms to streamline every facet of work.
This leads to a reduction in paperwork. Paperwork and manual processes often lead to chaos and human errors. Also, for companies wanting to adhere more closely to green practices, ridding themselves of paper can become a major benefit as well.
Streamlining workflows for more efficiency.
Redesigning what workflows are in the workplace are on an upward trend for the future. It means companies reinventing how people do their job to increase efficiency rates.
Along with this brings more attention to being more resilient so companies can keep up with any tech disruptions. Automation is so important because it keeps going and can still operate, even when disruptions occur. Keeping the wheel of business turning is good for all companies and helps to stay ahead of competition.
All of this can soon be accomplished without physically or mentally exhausting your employees.