By Andrew Conway, CTO at Proteus developed by Xergy.
There’s nothing new about remote working. Yet until March 2020, many companies had not considered remote work, or even a hybrid workforce, a permanent and sustainable option. When working from home became the only option, it became clear this type of flexible working need no longer be associated with a loss of productivity or quality. Companies have realised, implemented correctly remote work is a powerful tool to bring about cost savings and business-wide efficiencies.
Thanks to the newfound vigour with which technology supports remote work progress and are globally adopted, the disruption to the office environment is increasing. The impact on the broader labour market is also prevalent. For the first time, businesses are questioning whether physical presence at work is truly the most efficient utilisation of employee time.
Already we have seen several notable businesses do away with the office altogether. The realisation that technology, such as AI, is driving teams to work smarter, not harder, is of great benefit in the longer term. AI can recognise and take over the menial and tedious tasks through machine learning, allowing employees to focus their efforts on business areas in real need of human attention. In other cases, the office is transforming into a hybrid hub. An environment that is open to flexibility and maximises the benefits of remote working while maintaining the collaborative human interactions that spark creativity. What forms is a team that is supported with health and wellbeing a priority.
There is a new and unique opportunity for AI alongside cloud-based work management systems to learn about a team. From their work to the interactions between colleagues, the data capture opportunity is fruitful. This knowledge can then be used to flag when team members might be feeling stressed and help create solutions that encourage a productive and happy workforce. Companies that can take advantage of this disruptive technology will gain a significant competitive advantage through the new highly-skilled talent increasingly looking for more flexible work options.
Of course, the correct implementation of this technology is fundamental. For businesses to thrive, strategic deployment and approaching AI with proper thought and care is paramount. Understanding the role this plays in the workplace, return on investment and what outcomes it needs to achieve to be considered a success is important. With this, we can ensure the business increases efficiency rather than adding complexity to work processes.
It’s not just the office that’s seeing disruption to the rising popularity of remote work. In the labour market, businesses that would have previously never considered remote work a possibility are evolving. Project-based sectors such as the diversified energy industry are witnessing the benefits of technology for increasing workforce productivity. The result is streamlined processes that ultimately lead to cost efficiencies, a win.
In truth, it is in these sectors where serious disruption is occurring. Driven by remote work and the technology behind it, priorities have shifted and digital capabilities sky-rocketed. The working world is opening up to a more flexible style of working; the gig worker revolution. Until now, freelancers have been considered a second-rate option. In fact, they have a unique ability to navigate financial challenges and help companies grow. Gig workers allow you to streamline your business as you only pay for the labour you need, precisely matching operational costs.
Supported by new technology, this new gig era involves digital platforms to connect gig workers with projects. The effortless matching of rated and highly skilled gig workers with a business’s needs, saving both times trawling through online searches or relying on haphazard word of mouth. Digital tools that can automate crucial paperwork including contracts, expense forms and invoices, will also benefit the gig economy so businesses aren’t buried under stacks of forms. These tech solutions help attract and retain the best talent too. The next generation of workers is looking for an attractive work environment without frustrating processes and slow decision making.
In a nutshell, the pandemic has kickstarted a fundamental shift in the way we work. Technology is driving this disruption further than we could have ever imagined only a few years ago. The normalisation of remote working and subsequent integration of new technologies such as AI and machine learning across multiple sectors and at a variety of business levels are undoubtedly here to stay. So watch this space because there’s certainly more progress and disruption ahead.