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Andrew Au: The Future of Work is Blended

Andrew Au: The Future of Work is Blended

The pandemic changed everything. For businesses, remote work and the acceleration of digital transformation were immense shifts. On a personal level, people experienced increased stress and burnout, causing them to rethink their priorities on a massive scale.

Today, companies need to think about what the future of work looks like. The problem is that the high productivity and new career opportunities presented during the pandemic are masking another story — 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.

Companies that get it are rediscovering the need to protect their most valuable asset — their people — and are looking for ways to design a future of work in terms of the total employee experience.

The Shift from CX to EX

Employee experience (EX) is based on the principles of a similar concept, customer experience (CX). CX considers every interaction between customer and business and seeks to provide more value. EX looks to make every aspect of the employee-employer relationship, from hiring and onboarding to professional development, more satisfying. When it’s done right, an EX strategy allows your business to attract and retain the best talent and generates greater loyalty and engagement. But what exactly is the scope of EX?

The needs and expectations of employees have changed. Perks like unlimited snacks and ping pong tables are not enough for EX. More than ever, employees are looking for a purpose in their work and a workplace that supports their well-being, which needs to be addressed by EX. Many companies are already doing it by blending the best of the way we work today with the best of what technology and a new mindset has to offer.

Blending Physical and Digital Worlds

When companies went remote, it became a worldwide case study that proved people could still collaborate even when they were not physically together. But remote collaboration isn’t perfect. There are limitations on what video conferencing and screen sharing can do in situations calling for hands-on, tactile interaction.

Mixed reality creates an environment where physical and digital objects co-exist and can interact in real-time. It has the potential to take remote collaboration off the screen, putting people and objects into a hybrid environment combining reality and virtual reality. Mercedes-Benz is an example of the power of mixed reality to enable real-time collaboration. Using Remote Assist and Microsoft HoloLens 2, service technicians and product experts collaborate using mixed reality to troubleshoot and resolve issues more quickly. Technicians benefit from easier access to expert assistance. Experts enjoy having the ability to resolve issues faster.

Sharing the Physical and Cognitive Labour

While the fear that machines will eventually take over our lives is fading, AI and machine learning are maturing to a state they can now take over some of the cognitive work people do. Blending the knowledge and skill of people with the capabilities of machines will help transform the employee experience in a number of ways.

Think about recruitment, a critical first touch in the employee experience. The trend towards using automation to parse and screen resumes results in time savings for HR staff. Now take it a step further and leverage AI to help evaluate candidates with more efficient and effective screening. The potential is even there to eliminate bias and use alternative ways to evaluate candidates.

Technology company pymetrics helps companies build their workforce using behavioural science and AI technology. The result is more diverse teams and more efficient processes. Using pymetrics, financial service company ANZ reduced recruiter-led screenings and increased diversity in their hiring. In addition, candidate satisfaction improved dramatically.

At multi-national consumer goods company Unilever, AI is used to nurture talent development. Before the pandemic, Unilever piloted a program driven by AI talent marketplace platform Gloat. Employees’ interest in developing new skills was matched with projects within the company unlocking new opportunities for reskilling. As the pandemic unfolded, the company quickly rolled out the program globally to fill immediate business needs. As a result, countless employees’ needs for career development were met.

Redefining “Workplace”

Beyond leveraging technology to improve EX, businesses that do it best will be those who also change their mindset about what the concept of “workplace” actually means.

It involves blending departments to form cross-functional working groups promoting creative problem-solving. Blending locations into a global, hybrid workforce brings together the best people who are free to do their best work from anywhere. And blending a workforce of permanent employees with freelancers and fractional employees allows companies to respond more quickly to the need for capacity and specialized skills they may not yet have in-house. It all adds up to being more agile while providing better employee experiences through enabling and empowerment.

Finding the Right Blend For Your Business

Just as CX became the way many companies differentiated themselves in the marketplace, EX will be the next great differentiator. However, there is no best way to do it. The way your company approaches the new world of work will be very different than other companies. Look around for inspirational stories of EX strategy in action. Then look at your culture, technology stack, processes. Most importantly, look at your people and design the most engaging employee experience to help you reach your goals together.

Andrew Au is a digital transformation leader who helps companies extract greater value from their technology investments. He is among the few to be named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, and he has received over 40 awards for innovation excellence. Andrew shares his dynamic perspectives on change management and emerging technology trends with media such as Forbes, Business Insider, Bloomberg, and BNN.

Interested in learning more about Andrew and what he can bring to your next event as an in-demand keynote speaker? Email us at [email protected].

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