Digitisation of the workplace is happening whether we like it or not. It doesn’t always follow the same path in each workplace or industry but there is no doubt that it is already occurring rapidly and will continue to do so.
It doesn’t mean that machines are going to suddenly take over everyone’s jobs, in fact, McKinsey research suggests less than 5% of existing occupations will be fully automated in the near future. However, in around 60% of jobs, more than one-third of their tasks can be automated so it does mean that the way we work will change dramatically in the coming years.
The digital workforce
Digitisation refers to the range of automation and robotics technologies that are used to drive productivity improvements in the workplace. Some of these technologies such as basic voice recognition or robotics in the auto industry have been around for many years but are now advancing to the point where they have much broader use cases. Others are only starting to reach a level of maturity where they are beginning to undergo mass adoption.
The most important technologies currently driving digitisation are:
- Automation – this range of technologies enables repeatable business processes to be partially or completely done by software or machines. It frees up businesses to change their systems and reduce costs associated with human tasks. Common tasks that can be automated include workflows for data entry or chat-bots for basic customer service enquiries.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning – these are the technologies that power such developments as the computer vision that controls automated vehicles or natural language processing that can be integrated into apps.
- Robotics – this includes everything from picking and packing robots in warehouses to 3D printing and drone deliveries of goods.
Why employees must evolve
The digital transformation is well underway and is increasing at a rate that people often underestimate. The rapid expansion of the digital economy means that early adopters that have already initiated their transformations are well rewarded by first mover advantage and productivity gains.
Some of these new technologies will result in certain job roles becoming obsolete but what is more likely is that these technologies will indirectly create even more jobs than they replace by creating new products and markets. At the same time they will necessitate that workers learn to work side by side with automated processes and robotic technologies. When people learn to interact seamlessly with machines, it will lead to digital workplaces that will be mutually beneficial to company owners and employees.
How to evolve
The simplest and best way to prepare for the digitisation of the workforce is to learn about it. The modern working environment necessitates that people be able to learn quickly and continuously. This allows people to acquire new insights as new technologies or approaches are applied to changing situations. The people who do this best will continue to remain relevant in the organisation and provide high levels of ongoing value.
What sets people apart in this area is the ability to “learn how to learn”. Rather than relying on their static skill set or knowledge base, they can apply a flexible approach to learning, where every new skill they acquire benefits from the skills they have already learnt. Some of the best way to achieve this are:
- Ask questions – don’t stay quiet if you don’t understand something. Set aside ego and commit to learning as much as possible every day, especially from specialists or experts in the area.
- Seek knowledge – actively look to expand your knowledge via traditional face to face courses, online seminars, or self-directed learning or study. Not only will you gain more knowledge but you will also help open your mind to new ideas and interact with new people.
- Try new approaches – look to try different ways of doing things. People are very reliant on habits or processes, even long after they are shown to no longer be the best way to do something. Don’t let age or previous levels of experience stop you from taking on new challenges. Doing this also helps you become familiar and comfortable with being more adaptable.
It can sometimes be difficult to embrace change, especially when it occurs rapidly like in today’s working environment. But by being open and flexible to continuous changes, it is possible to not only expand your skills and knowledge but to also take advantage of it to boost your career.
If you would like to find out more about how you can learn to better adapt to the digital workforce, check out Finite’s blog.