Industrial revolution. When we talk about the future of work, one of the topics that might surface, is the industrial revolution. If you remember from our history classes, so far we’ve been through three industrial revolutions. The first one started in the 18th century and it was all about steam power and the mechanization of production. The second one began in the 19th century, through the discovery of electricity and the production of the assembly line. The third one began in the 70s, and it was about partial automation and memory-programmable controls and computers. And now, we are starting to witness the 4th one.
The goal of Industry 4.0 or the cyber revolution is to merge the abilities of both humans and machines. While we have grown with movies like The Terminator, The Matrix and I, Robot, where we were taught about the robot uprising and AI takeovers, we are far from that scenario. If it’s steered in the right direction, the cyber revolution will bring us smart cities, sustainable energy, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, genome editing, autonomous vehicles, and other significant improvements in our daily lives.
The rise of the remote worker
There is no doubt that this pandemic accelerated the future of work at an unprecedented speed. In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 sent the whole globe to work from their homes. Of course, this change caused the unemployment rate to skyrocket. Many businesses are facing temporary challenges, like the supply chain distribution. But these problems will be resolved once the social interaction restrictions and travel restrictions will be lifted. But what’s here to stay, post-pandemic as well, is the possibility of working remotely, according to this study by GitLab.
Remote-work has a lot of benefits to both employees and employers as well. The study shows remote workers have the opportunity to grow while focusing on their families without having to give up their careers. Other benefits are: a flexible schedule, lack of commute, costs savings, increased productivity, improved health, reduced anxiety and stress, and the freedom to travel. It also levels out the playing field by giving people that have a disability or a chronic illness a chance to work. Many of the industries that are supporting remote work, like Information Technology, Marketing, Business Administration and Management, Mobile App Development, are still hiring.
Since this pandemic started, all of us at 123 Form Builder, have been working remotely. We are fully mobile and have fine-tuned processes across all our departments. We are keeping the company culture alive and interacting with our colleagues, via different online activities, and with the help of HiBob, a people management platform. And guess what? We are also hiring! You can take a look at our available jobs right here.
Transferable skills and career changes
While the pandemic took the unemployment rate at an all-time high, the people started to look for alternatives. One of these alternatives would be leveraging your current skills and making a career change. This change is possible with transferable skills, which are abilities or talents that can be applied to multiple jobs, roles, or industries. These skills don’t depend on your actual job, but are developed and refined throughout your career.
Some of the most important transferable skills are:
- Technical Skills;
- Communication Skills;
- Critical Thinking Skills;
- Multitasking (Time Management and Organization) Skills;
- Teamwork Skills;
- Creativity Skills;
- Leadership Skills;
In this Forbes article, you can read more about them, and also you will find resources that will help you further develop these skills.
The human component in the digital age
If I had a nickel, for every time I heard robots are going to steal our jobs, well, let’s say I’d be diving in a vault full of coins, just like Scrooge McDuck. But, setting aside my childhood dreams, what can we expect from the next wave of tech innovation? And how is that going to affect humans? To find an answer to these questions, we have to look at the emerging trends in tech.
In this Digital Pulse by PwC article, we can read that there are eight essential technologies, ready to shape the future: 3D printing, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain technology, drones, Internet of Things, robotics and virtual reality. Each of these technologies combined, have the power to move us a step closer to a sci-fi reality. For example, by combining artificial intelligence, augmented reality, IoT, and robotics, we could create an immersive interface, able to provide a natural communication that uses voice, touch and emotion, between humans, computers, and digital environments. We could also automate trust that will ensure data authenticity, verify identities, and create fair multiple-party transactions with AI, blockchain, and IoT. The possibilities seem endless, you can check out the infographic from PwC below, to find out how these technologies could shape the future of work.
Courtesy of: PwC’s Digital Pulse
But, for now, since many employees are forced to work from home, their organizations started incorporating multiple tools and software to facilitate the automation and enhancement of the business processes. With the help of RPA (robotic process automation), also known as software bots, companies are aiding their employees by automating the tasks that require data entry, electronic filing, and the review of long documents. By the automation of repetitive processes, data-input processes, or rules-based logic processes, employees can focus on other tasks that require human judgment-based decisions, or other assignments that demand a creative approach, or social and emotional intelligence.
Companies and the employees wellbeing
With the state of the world being in turmoil, we have seen many people experiencing elevated levels of anxiety or stress. Whether they are stressed about the virus, or their jobs, or their families and friends, how can different organizations help the people cope with stress? And how is the employees’ wellbeing going to look like, post-pandemic?
First of all, companies can help their employees by using technology to provide staff with access to various resources, like mental health programs, licensed counselors, and meditation platforms. Besides, they can also organize yoga or coffee meetings with the employees, via platforms like Zoom, to help them keep in touch and boost spirits. Plus, there are other ways as well to cope with coronavirus anxiety, according to psychologists, as this Business Insider article mentioned.
Second, companies can prioritize wellbeing in their benefits plan, by including physical, mental, and financial health, all year round. For example, we at 123 Form Builder, adopted the morning coffee with our colleagues via Zoom, GIF battles via Trello, themed contests via Slack, and we have a health insurance plan that covers both physical and mental matters. Also, we have in place some measures that assure our employees’ financial health.
So what could the future of employee wellbeing be holding? For starters, besides the companies expanding their benefits plan, we will see that the company culture will play a bigger role, as this Forbes article predicts it. It also states that work will become more flexible, relationships with teammates and managers will improve, employees will be more comfortable with different technologies, the bureaucracy will be reduced, and essentially innovation will flourish.
Therefore, we have a lot to look forward to, and holding a sense of optimism for the future may be tough right now, but the struggles of today are improving the day of tomorrow. Businesses that align their strategic work with vision and develop ways to address these changing times are likely to lead and benefit from the revolution. Remember that “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” as Abraham Lincoln said.