Opinion

Here’s why AI could finally spell the end to the office as we know it

- June 26, 2019 3 MIN READ

 

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) will steal your next job”.

While anyone working in the IT field knows this is an overreaction, there is always an element of truth in every dramatised statement. Rephrased as “AI will steal part of your next job” makes the statement more accurate. However, what knowledge workers should be thinking is “AI will usher in a new generation of working, making work more flexible and greatly increase productivity”.

It’s less fearmongering but it’s a line of thinking that organisations must adopt to prepare for the workplace of tomorrow, today.

Technology being inherent in our lives to make work more scalable isn’t a new phenomenon.

The breakthrough of AI technologies in recent years however, continues to unlock our full potential at work, conjuring new ways to solve problems with invaluable data insight. This also means that the workplace of tomorrow will be one that is progressive in thought, mobile, and the most productive in history.

AI and the cloud is at the forefront of this business revolution, turning the desires of the new wave of workers to choose their location of work along with cutting-edge technology. It will not be a case of man versus machine, but man and machine working alongside to solve the world’s problems.

What does this look like in reality?

 

Flexible working is the new black

The worker of tomorrow works when they want and where they want. According to the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, 11.6% of Australian workers identify as independent contractors.

Empowered by cloud applications like low-latency video chat, instant messaging, file sharing and online collaborative working applications, the gig economy has continued to thrive.

From ridesharing services like Uber to freelancer services like Airtasker, workers are taking jobs through cloud-based applications rather than handing their resumes to store fronts and offices.

If Australia follows the trajectory of the United States, by 2027, half of the workforce could be freelancing (Source: Statista). 

Further, the other half of the workforce that is still employed traditionally will likely not work in a traditional office space. A study by the International Workplace Group found that almost 50% of Australian employees currently work remotely for at least half of the week.

The concept of the “office” is becoming blurry and likened to a spare bedroom, a coffee shop or a hotel room. By reducing the requirements of a physical meeting place, businesses will have a newfound freedom to employ workers outside of their physical region.

They can look for the best talent no matter the location, expanding recruitment options as vast as the ocean. 

 

Effective communication is key

Communication technology, be it low-latency cloud-based video communication or instant messaging, allows mobile working to be as productive as office-based working, while giving employees the satisfaction of a flexible working environment. With an efficient video collaboration tool, a team of workers located in different states can share ideas and work simultaneously, without inhabiting the same physical space.

However, the new workforce will get its edge by benefitting from technology which boosts productivity. Advances in AI allow it to handle mundane administrative tasks such as taking minutes. In video calls, chat bots can automatically make detailed meeting notes, distribute transcripts, and schedule follow up meetings for all meeting attendees. By taking on these tasks, an AI program frees up workers to complete more demanding tasks which will lead to producing more meaningful results for the business. 

At the same time, IT needs to work cross functionally to drive business outcomes and the best employee experiences. Business should look to invest in IT solutions that utilise cutting-edge technology to improve employee productivity and satisfaction, not just because tomorrow’s worker will demand it, but because it will result in a more successful business.

 

How businesses can prepare for the future of work

Workplaces will need strong collaboration tools that support high-performance, highly distributed virtual teams. As the evolution of working practices has already begun, business leaders must begin preparing today for the workplace of tomorrow.

Legacy communication platforms should be replaced with an integrated and comprehensive set of communication tools that connect and engage employees seamlessly regardless of where they are. 

Businesses should adopt cloud-based communication platforms to provide scalable, secure, all-in-one collaboration solutions. The scalability of the cloud allows Australian businesses to harness the latest technology solutions to provide the best environment for the state of their business today, in 12 months, or the next five years, in turn driving business outcomes and ideal employee experiences.

By preparing for the future today, Australia’s businesses will be better positioned to embrace the new era of working and come out on top in a globally connected market. 

 

  • Michael Chetner is Head of Asia Pacific, Zoom Video Communications

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