How to Manage Today’s Hyper-Connected Workforce

By Rob Hill, CRO at ProFinda

Today’s offices are very different from just a few decades ago. The past few years have seen the rise of instant messaging, work-related social media, collaboration tools, and of course, the infamous Millennials.

There are new pressures on current-day HR teams because of this. Millennials and the generations after them (think Generation Z for example) are digital natives. They are used to having information at their fingertips.

This means that traditional work systems may not match up to their expectations. This is a generation that’s been brought up on iPads. Windows XP simply won’t cut it.

A workplace attitude shift

It’s more than just a generational issue though. There’s been a huge attitude shift in today’s workforce. Most people won’t wait longer than 3 seconds for a web page to load.

The same mentality applies to information accessed at work. Employees are constantly connected to email and work apps via their smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Because of this, there’s a certain expectation for information to always be available, all the time.

Changing work patterns

As well as this cultural shift towards an instant information environment, there’s also a change in work patterns. People aren’t as satisfied working the traditional 9-5 and there’s been a rise in gig workers, flexible working, and digital nomadism. Of course, being hyper-connect through technology has helped with this.

Technology is somewhat limited

Technology can only go so far in satisfying today’s workforce and enabling them to work effectively together. Tools like Slack and Yammer offer part-solutions to keeping everyone connected.

Project management tools like Trello and Asana can help a team stay on track, but not tell you who should be in that team in the first place. And there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find the right person to ask a question when your organization is spread across multiple continents and nobody really knows anyone else.

But AI can help

That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. Using the same algorithms as dating sites, you can intelligently match employees and gig workers across the globe, to projects or relevant opportunities.

At the click of a button, algorithms spring into work to match people based on their past experience, skills, areas of expertise and interests, to questions, requests for advice or mentorship, and projects.

Like a dating site, the AI does need some relevant profile information. Most of this can be sourced from a CV or LinkedIn. From this, different algorithms can suggest related skills to supplement someone’s profile and keep it constantly up-to-date.

Imagine a future where someone needs to find an expert in blockchain in their company, but they don’t know who to turn to.

They could begin to write an email that requests help, and an AI can then read the body of the email and suggest profiles of people who match the request. This can pre-populate the send section of the email, without someone having to search manually for the right expert.

That’s the kind of effortless user experience that has become part-and-parcel of our hyper-connected society.

We need tech-driven networking too

Because we’re becoming more digitally native, more connected to technology, a technology-driven approach to networking and community building is important.

LinkedIn achieves this somewhat, but it still requires a manual search or introduction from someone. In the future, AI might help bridge this gap by automatically recommending people who should be in your network.

AI may very well be the solution to connecting people with others, instantly.

And a way to deal with job losses

There’s also the future challenge of automation through AI (for a comprehensive read about the impact of automation and AI on the future of work go here).

14% of jobs are expected to be automated in the next few years. Businesses may have a moral responsibility to ensure employees are future-proofed against this.

The only way to know what proportion of your workforce is at risk of automation is to clearly have all skills mapped out. However, many organizations don’t have a full overview of the skills in their teams. Especially if the workforce is dispersed – partly internal, partly contractors, with several on flexi-time. This so-called blended workforce is something that’s increasingly becoming a reality in a lot of companies.

In the future, to effectively manage the risk of automation, HR teams need to have complete transparency on their workforce’s skills and experience. Ironically, AI can help with this somewhat. By keeping people’s skills up-to-date with intelligent skills suggestions.

HR needs to be up-to-date with new technology

AI is becoming, well, more intelligent. As it does so, the possible applications of the technology will grow. For HR teams, it’s important to stay up-to-speed with developments in order to best manage workforces.

There are many challenges faced by today’s workforce, and many future ones to come. It is only through embracing new technology and assessing its use and value to your organization, that you can keep your workforce satisfied. It’s vital to be aware of changing workplace expectations as well. Plus, how technology can effectively facilitate this.

It’s only by truly getting to grips with what your workforce wants and will need (now and in the future) that you can manage them effectively.

About the author

Rob Hill, CRO at ProFinda is a customer-facing executive leader in digital HR focused on business transformation, client value recognition, customer success and ultimately growing shareholder value. With 20+ years of global Cloud HR technology experience, Rob focusses on delivering genuinely transformational Digital HR solutions which add value by solving real business problems, resulting in amazing customer satisfaction with a genuine ROI.

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