Digitalisation and connecting people, machines and processes continues to progress. Digitalisation also sets the pace in human resources – in continuing education, payroll or recruiting. But human labour is not being replaced per se, but an autonomous virtual process is being added. After all, digitalisation brings new tools for teamwork and personnel management which are already speeding up many processes now and in the long term will turn the current definition of labour upside down. Hierarchies, decision-making processes and a new understanding of working hours and workplace are part of it.
In order to benefit from Work 4.0 in media companies and other industries, it is imperative to recognize digital transformation as an opportunity in which people are the ones leading the way. Even if more and more machines are being added to the workplace, we need to set the right course now and utilise how they benefit us. These trends were discussed in detail at “Zukunft Personal 2017” in Cologne, Europe’s largest personnel management exhibition. Recent studies also show a clear trend toward restructuring the workplace
Welcoming smart machine machines as co-workers
A worldwide study by Pegasystems in autumn 2017 of 845 managers showed a generally positive attitude toward smart machine co-workers, the so-called “Colleagues AI”. The results show that smart machines can help workers achieve more autonomy and satisfaction at work. More than two-thirds of the managers (69 percent) from various industrial sectors (financial services, insurance, manufacturing industry, telecommunications and media, the public sector and retail) expect that in the future, the term “manpower” will also encompass smart machines working alongside the human employees controlling them.
69 percent of those respondents said that automating previously manual processes will allow employees to take on more diverse and more challenging tasks. This could particularly apply to employees with customer contact, who respondents believe could have smart machines handle routine tasks. 64 percent of respondents stated AI would increase the autonomy of employees.
The study also emphasises that people will continue to play an important role in jobs requiring emotional intelligence, reasoning and cultural sympathy. Only 41 percent expect artificial intelligence will be able to replace employees with respect to tasks involving customer contact, whilst three quarters (77 percent) believe using AI will become standard within the next five years, suggesting next best actions to customer service employees.
Flexible working hours and places
Another study by Kantar TNS showed a need of moving forward toward work 4.0: 72 percent of the 20,424 persons 14 years and up surveyed in Germany consider flexible working hours to be part of a modern workplace. However, despite an increasing dissemination of digital, portal work equipment, only one sixth of the Germany’s labour force is working (at least in part) mobile, on the road, or flexible, from home. Yet one fourth of the workforce not working from home or telecommuting are generally not provided the premises by employees.
Hence the potentials for flexible working, modern working structures or reconciling private and work life are not being utilised, so there’s still need to catch up.
“Moving Minds” – Lifelong learning as an opportunity
Whether it’s an evolution or revolutionary radical upheavals in the workplace, only those who keep their minds moving will see change as an opportunity. “Moving Minds” – this not only means technical innovations but also employees continuously learning. With respect to continuing education, eLearning and advancements from the media community are coming to the fore. In this respect, one should already remember the terms “microlearning” – retrieving small information units and test questions on the PC or mobile from a server with software monitoring the individual learning progress and then adapting questions to prior correct or incorrect answers. Even “gamification” – using game-type elements such as high scores, rankings, virtual goods or awards to increase motivation in the persons who handle tasks which are otherwise less challenging or too complex – will become more relevant.
The focus of all digitalisation processes is the human with all developments. Those who embrace the newly emerging “cyber humanism”, will manage the supposed digital overload in the workplace constructively and utilise it positively.