The advancement of technology in the work environment is being carefully considered in boardrooms across Northern Ireland, GB and the Republic of Ireland in 2019. With 2020 on the horizon, technology can now be a major asset in gaining, significant competitive advantage for firms across all sectors. Alexa for Business, for example, effectively removes barriers to using applications through the use of voice-enabled controls that help to ensure organisations and employees achieve a more productive day. Culturally, is the workplace ready for such AI placement? Is this a step too far that blurs the boundaries between our relationships with work, technology and our ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
The reality is that technology is here and the workforce is embracing it, albeit in their homes. In Q3 of 2019 Amazon now has sold over 130 million Alexa devices with an increasing global market share. Amazon is outselling its nearest rivals 3 to 1 in the smart speaker market. With the advent of more home devices gaining connectivity it again poses the questions outlined above.
More help from virtual assistants frees up a workforce for family time, fitness or overlapping work commitments. Many of us already carry work with us in our pockets anyway – the lines between tech, work and leisure time are already blurred – but thanks to voice recognition it’s becoming an altogether more human interaction. Surely bringing Alexa to work is a natural progression?
Natural perhaps, but employers embracing new technology need to set boundaries to ensure an individual’s personal security, enabling their employees to be more efficient in work time and encouraging a healthier work-life balance.
With a strong consideration of GDPR, employee information and how it’s processed is a key factor for all businesses, combined with the clients and customers they work with.
With many businesses increasing their use of cloud technology, individual security is a concern for consumers and employees. Technology is helping to remedy this; with significant advances in fingerprint and facial recognition has already made an impact on banking apps and across the security industries.
To achieve greater efficiency in your organisation, let technology take the strain, automate the tasks that few want to do such as editing, reporting, research or admin. AI can take away the drudgery, freeing up teams to exercise their judgement or take on more creative tasks. Office management programmes such as Slack enable remote working and helping to connect part-time employees, contractors and employees offsite. All this helps to encourage and nurture a more diverse workforce.
Technology for work-life balance
With the continuing and accelerating evolution in our workplace, organisations need to learn to set boundaries on how they use technology to help employees achieve a greater work-life balance. Knowing your employees can be contacted at a moment’s notice doesn’t mean they should be. With the continued competition for talent, organisation can utilise these technologies to attract talent to their organisations. The attraction of remote working through technology is seen as a key differentiator in a person’s career move, particularly from a work-life balance perspective.
Moving towards 2020, smart technology will continue at pace and looks set to continue to minimise the gap between work and personal life. Furthermore, the business benefits to be gained from AI are numerous.
Indeed, an IBM survey published last week found that 65% of the C-suite executives surveyed believe that automation of decision-making processes will increase in their business landscape over the next 2-3 years. Investment to support technology improvements need to be carefully considered, but the impact on the bottom line is ultimately what the C-suite will be looking at.
According to the survey, 9% of the total respondents – dubbed “Torchbearers” – stood out as understanding that transparency, reciprocity, and accountability are critical ingredients for earning trust among key stakeholders. These leaders build customer trust, create cultures of data-based decision-makers and are adept at sharing data with ecosystem partners without giving away competitive edge. This group was found to outperform peers in revenue growth and profitability – delivering 165 percent higher results – as well as in innovation and managing change.
The technology opportunities are numerous – and some likely to come into effect without much fanfare– employers and employees should ensure a fair distribution between the time at work and time at home. As in most other areas, the technology we create can be used to help or hinder and it will be down to the employees collaborating to find the right blended balance with their organisation.