The Future of Work: Trust in Technology is Critical

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

January 21, 2021

The future of work looks remote and flexible. The shift to remote working began even before the pandemic struck. And it worked both ways. For people working or studying at physical locations, it meant the ability to forgo rush hour traffic and save the time spent on their commute.  For business owners who could continue operations remotely, it resulted in huge cost savings in terms of physical office space and associated overheads. 

But there is more than meets the eye. Not every business can be managed or run remotely. Most require their employees’ physical presence while for others, their business continuity depended on face-to-face interactions with their customers. For instance, the hotels, restaurants and catering industry cannot fathom smooth operations without the actual presence of managers, housekeepers or servers. However, emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and automation are making inroads, giving business owners—across industries—food for thought.

The pandemic’s onset acted as a catalyst, encouraging a serious rethink of our current ways of working. The millennial workforce demand flexibility in their work roles, a trend that spawned the growth of the gig economy, well before the pandemic. In fact, social media sites are often indicative of millennials’ inclinations; many in this subset are very expressive of their preferences on public platforms. And this trend has its upsides, for these data insights can fuel the evolution of work in the time to come. 

Horasis is of the strong belief that we now stand at a threshold where dynamic disruptions will dictate the new normal. Governments, businesses, and individuals must be prompt in embracing change or risk becoming redundant. The ‘Horasis Extraordinary Meeting on the United States of America’ on 18 March 2021 is designed to do just that, and will be attended by leaders from diverse backgrounds to deliberate and share actionable solutions to problems of today.

How Organizations Must React

Terms such as upskilling and reskilling are familiar ones now, often used in the context of the future of jobs. Let’s look at what it really means from an organization’s standpoint. Upskilling means to equip existing employees with additional skills. And this is something that organizations must prioritize. Many small businesses still lack the knowhow on business basics such as using an excel sheet. And come to think of it, this tool was launched over three decades ago.

Technology is only going to continue accelerating innovation and, in turn, innovation will disrupt even more areas. And amid such rapid tech uptake, it will be regressive for business leaders to not stay abreast of such developments. Upskilling their workforces is imperative and so is regular honing of skill sets.

Reskilling is another domain where organizations can play a vital role. This can also form a part of fulfilling CSR objectives. It bodes well for organizations to give back to the communities they operate in. They can consider developing training centers in communities where their employees take turns in teaching tech skills to common people, especially so in emerging economies. Such efforts foster a community spirit while also assisting brand building.

Organizations need to keep abreast with developments in technology and innovation. Many cite—and especially among baby boomers—a hesitation to tech because they possibly have less understanding of it and the fear of reaping no returns on investments made in digitalization.

However, the quick surge in e-commerce platforms amid the pandemic should stand as ‘proof of concept’ – that the digital sphere is as promising as the physical. And this trend will continue and stick well beyond the pandemic.

Businesses that did not have an initial online presence were caught unaware, and were staring at huge losses. Large brands were quick to notice this gradual shift even before the pandemic hit and had invested in digital transformation. Several auto manufacturers were quick to innovate over the recent past. They began using virtual reality (VR) to attract prospective buyers, allowing an immersive experience. The physical showroom may well be replaced in forthcoming years by a virtual experience. 

Trust is Important

Businesses will need to develop trust in technology and people to take the next big leap. Leaders must understand the various technologies available to them to scale their capabilities, while also fostering a culture of innovation in their firms. Remote working was probably taking baby steps prior to the pandemic but in what is becoming increasingly clear, remote or hybrid working will only become more popular. One interesting example in this regard is a company called GitLab. The organization has some 1300 employees working across 65 countries. They are yet to (and probably never will) establish a physical office. A key underlying principle here was to first put trust in technology.

Photo Caption: With the pandemic, the role of technology has become indispensable. But it is critical that we first put our trust in technology.