The workplace is constantly changing, and the roles that people have within it are changing too.
Take the construction industry, for example. The government is encouraging new homes to be built offsite, to help it achieve its target of 300,000 houses built a year, which is essentially making them in factories and then transporting them to building sites, where they are erected and completed.
In this offsite process, traditional skills and job roles such as bricklaying, carpentering and roofing become less important and new, factory-based roles and skills are needed instead.
OLD ROLES V NEW ROLES
Changes such as these are generally driven by new technology, which makes existing roles obsolete and creates new roles that require people to have new skills, capabilities and approaches.
The speed of this change is increasing, and the new technology driving it is becoming more and more capable. This means that people will need to set their sights higher and higher, on roles that are more strategic and add more value to the bottom line. This, in turn, means that HR departments will need to rethink how they resource work and how they give people the skills they will need to be able to do these new jobs – many of which may not even have been invented yet.
So when organisations make the transition to a hybrid workplace – one that’s optimised for technology and where human employees work closely with the latest digital innovations – they’ll have to answer some important questions about the impact it will have on how they develop their employees.
There’s no doubt that getting robots and Artificial Intelligence to do the mundane, repetitive tasks will be good news for human employees – they’ll be free to take on these higher-level, strategic and creative tasks that will allow them to fulfil their potential and do really meaningful, purposeful work.
In a time when all businesses will be able to streamline and maximise their processes with technology, the human dimension will differentiate the winners from the also-rans.
But it also poses new challenges in moving people up to these new, higher-level roles. Alongside the new skills, mindset and approach, they’ll need to be agile and able to keep learning if they’re to thrive in this new world of work.
THE CHALLENGES OF A HYBRID WORKFORCE
Employers will have to identify what their people need and provide the necessary learning and training, creating a culture that allows them to succeed. In fact, in our ground-breaking new research into the future of work - Human to Hybrid: the next workforce frontier – more than a third (35%) of the 2,300 employees we spoke to believe that organisations should be offering more training and learning opportunities to allow them to develop their skills as necessary on the journey to a hybrid workforce.
They want their organisations to be transparent around their plans to deploy automation and AI, to be consulted and included in decision-making, and to be supported whenever they need it.
And with new roles and competencies come new requirements to recognise and reward performance. What will great performance look like? How can organisations reward it in a way that will motivate people to keep learning and keep delivering success in this strange new environment?
While business leaders will undoubtedly be excited about the efficiencies and productivity gains that new technologies will deliver, they must also consider the competitive advantage that their people can give them. They also need to acknowledge that employees have very different views about the prospect of a hybrid workplace – 51% of employees are largely positive about it, 30% are worried about their future job prospects and employability, and 19% are highly sceptical about the value of a hybrid workforce and their own role and purpose within it – and enable everyone to adapt at their own pace with the support, training and reassurance that they need.
The prospect of doing new jobs in a new work environment that is optimised for technology is a scary prospect, whether you’re eager to take up the challenge or not. If employers accept this, and manage the transition strategically and sensitively, their people will be skilled, engaged and committed when the time comes to swap working on a building site for working in a factory.
What is Human to Hybrid?
For the purposes of this research, we defined Human to Hybrid as ‘‘the new dynamic where humans will work in a fully digitised and technologically-optimised environment, and increasingly work alongside robots and AI, over the next ten years”.