The 2017 - 2018 Willis Towers Watson Global Future of Work Survey reveals how employers are moving beyond workplace automation myths as they determine how to manage the many emerging work options, from contingent labor to AI and robotics. It examines not only where breakthroughs are needed but also how to plot a course of action.
The results of this Towers Watson survey suggest employers are unprepared for how automation will change the nature of work, the workforce, and how both are managed:
- 27% of respondents say they require fewer employees due to automation today; that jumps to 49% by 2020.
- Respondents said 83% of work is currently being done by full-time employees. They expect this to drop to 77% by 2020. Work performed by the following categories of talent is expected to rise during that timeframe: Part-timers (7% now, 10% in 2020), free agents (4% now, 6% by 2020), workers on loan from other organizations (1% today, 2% in 2020), free agents from online talent platforms (.2% now, 1% in 2020). Work performed by consultants and outside agencies is expected remain flat at 4%.
- 69% or respondents feel automation and the changing workforce mix will require breakthrough approaches in performance management. Over two-thirds say it will require new organizational structures.
- More than a third of employers say they are unprepared to deconstruct jobs toward identifying which tasks can be automated.
- Over half say automation increases workplace flexibility today; 68% say it will do so in 2020.
- 38% say they are unprepared for the task of re-skilling those who will be effected by automation.
- 45% say by 2020 they will be redesigning jobs so the can be done by people with higher skills, 42% say they will be doing the same so jobs can be done by people with lower skills.
Their report elaborates on the following suggested course of action:
- Understand how technology and automation will impact work
- Define the re-skilling pathways
- Lead the change to new ways of working
When we play, we improvise, imagine, and inspire—all of which is good for business. Here’s how to add playfulness to business strategy.
The article suggests that somewhere between improvisation and imagination lies inspiration and play is essential to all three. It asserts that play is not the opposite or work, that's leisure. Play is part of productive work, especially where innovation is concerned. To encourage an atmosphere of play, the authors suggest we:
- Eliminate the risk of rejection or embarrassment
- Forget about goals; only then can your mind wander
- Create boundaries, areas where play is welcome and encouraged
- Encourage spontaneity and impulsiveness
- Be patient. Sometimes play yields great new ideas and sometimes it doesn't, at least not right away.
Fast food, real estate, military operations, even home improvement — many large industries will have to shift their strategies in the wake of driverless cars.
The article points to 33 industries that stand to win or lose when humans take a back seat to driving. The more interesting ones include:
- Parking garages/lots: According to Mckinsey, driverless cars could eliminate the need for 61 billion square feet of unnecessary parking space. Remaining spaces will need to be reconfigured for the new normal.
- Residential real estate: Bloomberg predicts a devaluation of urban residential space allocation of space. An increase in urban sprawl is predicted by many. Homeowners may repurpose garages as living space.
- Commercial real estate: The phrase "location, location, location" will lose its importance.
- Healthcare: Collision-free driving could reduce US healthcare costs by $500B/year.
- Insurance/Legal professions: 94% of car crashes are due to human error. Driverless cars will shift the insurance burden to the manufacturers/fleet owners and reduce litigation.
Group workspaces at the office are going mainstream, but employers must work to make the transition from assigned seats a smooth one.
The WSJ featured Perkins + Will, Fifth Third, and Unilever in this article about the trend in unassigned desks. The message is, they may hate it at first, but in the end they're love it. It ends with a list of good transition tips that emphasize the importance of rules, technology, and choice.
SAP and Google have adopted workplace mindfulness programs that address job disruption caused by artificial intelligence and other emerging tech. Are they on to something CIOs should know?
Not long ago the concept of mindfulness would have brought a round of giggles and guffaws in the boardroom. Those days are gone. SAP has delivered mindfulness training to over 6,000 employees, another 5,000+ are patiently waiting for their turn.
While the concept bombed with senior leadership when it was termed 'mindfulness training', 'attention training' was an instant hit. Google uses it to help employees prepare for new roles as AI replaces jobs.
- Watch your language. 'Stress training,' for example, may turn off those who aren't stressed.
- Make it your own. It's not necessarily about incense and sitting cross-legged.
- Lead with knowledge. Hard research will dissuade naysayers.