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It’s increasingly clear artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be central to the future of work and this presents an ongoing challenge for many organisations. Taking advantage of the powerful AI tools already available and the major developments set to come in the years ahead requires a savvy approach to technology and data management.

Automation can improve efficiency and business processes and allow organisations to relocate resources no longer required in those processes. Equally, however, thriving in this environment requires a culture and workforce that is able to collaborate in harmony with machines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented upheaval and disruption in the business world, but the move towards more digital workflows in recent years has at least meant that many companies have been able to continue operating with employees at home. AI is at the heart of this, whether helping staff schedule virtual meetings, quickly locating important emails or powering the chatbots that are enabling consumers to get answers to questions promptly, rather than spending hours waiting on the phone.

As many organisations are no doubt taking a fresh look at their workforce during this testing time, one key takeaway is likely to be the realisation that remote working in virtual teams can deliver as much productivity as gathering everybody in a central office. That’s not to say, however, that physical offices should be eradicated anytime soon. If anything, the lockdowns enforced around the world have demonstrated more clearly than ever the value of people being able to connect in physical environments.

After the current crisis is over, work will become more flexible, but hopefully also more human

“It’s great to see how closely and efficiently people can collaborate virtually, but meeting and engaging in person has a quality that technology can’t transport yet,” says Dr Hendrik Dietrich, managing editor, science and technology, at getAbstract, a leading provider of online compressed knowledge.

“Through the pandemic, we’re learning that even though many of us can do our jobs from our home office, we still need social contact and those informal moments at the coffee machine. Some people have responded to that need by having “virtual” coffee breaks with colleagues. Surely, after the current crisis is over, work will become more flexible, but hopefully also more human.

“This pandemic clearly shows how important and irreplaceable humans really are. And people will be grateful for this reaffirmation. No matter how advanced technology becomes, humans will always stay in the loop. And where their experience and expertise are needed, it will be more important than ever. Take for example the ethical considerations the current pandemic as well as the global distribution of AI technology evoke. These must be addressed by a representative human collaborative.”

Perhaps a more likely outcome from the pandemic will be an enhanced willingness from companies to embrace flexible working arrangements, with a braver mix of home working and traditional offices, as well as virtual and physical spaces that foster social collaboration and team spirit.

A recent YouGov study found that millennials, who already make up more than a third of the workforce, value work-life balance over job security. So, as their people come out of the lockdown scenarios they have been in, companies have the unique opportunity to reflect on the work-life balance in their own organisation.

The bigger picture is that COVID-19’s drastic interruption to normal business life presents the chance for businesses to review their entire culture and take bold steps to prepare for the future.

Though the turbulence caused from the pandemic cannot be matched, the reality is that businesses have been facing disruption on a growing scale for years now. Whether it be ever-changing customer expectations, growing competition, a more complicated regulatory landscape or indeed advancements in AI-based automation, it has been increasingly clear organisations need to evolve for the digital world. COVID-19 only reinforces that reality. Adopting a learning culture that enables companies to upskill and reskill their current workforce is paramount.

“With every technological revolution in history, people have been afraid that machines will take their jobs. But, in the end, more jobs have always been created than lost. With the upcoming AI revolution, it will be no different,” says Dietrich.

“However, the formal training people receive no longer guarantees they’ll do what they currently do for the rest of their careers. As machines take over more jobs that were traditionally done by humans, especially those that are stationary, repetitive and easy to automate, upskilling and reskilling of the workforce will force human resources departments to reinvent themselves.

getAbstract data

“Organisations must take on the challenge of creating reskilling programmes that empower employees to take their learning and development into their own hands. And when such programmes aren’t available, individuals must become proactive and acquire knowledge and skills through self-directed learning and continued education. People who stay curious and embrace lifelong learning, and who welcome the challenges brought by changes in their jobs and in the workplace, will have a clear advantage when it comes to adapting for the future.”

These forward-thinking companies and individuals will find getAbstract’s compressed knowledge an invaluable resource as they navigate their daily challenges. getAbstract offers more than 20,000 summaries of non-fiction and business books, professional articles, economic reports and video talks in seven different languages.

Subscribers can access the ten-minute abstracts on their computer or mobile device and read or listen to them anytime, anywhere. This shortcut to the best and most relevant knowledge helps people learn in the flow of business and ultimately take better decisions for themselves and their organisations.

“We can only speculate about how AI will shape the jobs of the future and the future of work. However, people who make sure they stay up to date, in terms of knowledge, not news, won’t be surprised by what that future brings because they’ll see it coming,” says Dietrich.

“That’s why lifelong learning is so essential and that’s why it is so important to have reliable sources and a means to efficiently find and select the relevant content among the overabundance of information on the internet. getAbstract offers the perfect solution that caters to people’s needs and saves them time by curating and rating the most relevant content and presenting it as short, accessible summaries, which enables them to cut through the noise and the constant influx of information.”

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