The profound impact of technology on today’s workplace

There is no doubt that today’s workplace has evolved considerably over the last decade. Long gone are the endless piles of paperwork required to coordinate activities across the floor. The ever-increasing presence of technology in the office has forced a radical change in the dynamics of the workplace: from the way we communicate to the automation of certain processes.

Our 2019 Salary Guide shows 38% of UK businesses believe that digitalisation is the biggest factor set to influence the future of the workplace ̶ in many ways, technology has become the main enabler of our daily tasks.

That being said, the changes to the workplace run deeper than different interfaces and IT platforms. Recent research from Robert Half Technology suggests that CIOs believe that factors such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing and automation are having a profound impact on staffing, as well as on the scope of the roles and skills required for success in the workplace.

Newer technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), are starting to reshape businesses by automating manual tasks in operations and processes which require rote learning and are generally susceptible to human error.

While many are concerned the role of AI in the workplace could be a threat to human talent, if we look into the detail a bit further there is a clear distinction. AI can automate time-consuming, repetitive tasks, such as mass data input or retrieval, helping to eliminate human error. With technology freeing up more time, employees can shift their focus towards strategic, customer-focused and high-ROI tasks, improving a company’s bottom-line while delivering fundamental skills which machines do not yet possess.

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Soft skills in-demand for the fourth industrial revolution

When it comes to hiring trends, companies will be battling to navigate the fourth industrial revolution by looking to fill skills gaps.

Technology has fundamentally reshaped the skills required to succeed in certain areas of business. The main change will be tied to employees’ ability to successfully navigate an increasingly digitalised workplace. As a strong believer that business relies on process, policy and passion, automation will play its biggest role behind-the-scenes, by speeding up processes and eliminating repetitive tasks. The human element or passion required to engage with customers and roll out strategic plans will, therefore, remain a priority.

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Consequently, soft skills are likely to become more important than ever, but they are in short supply, creating a war for talent. In our research, a significant proportion of CIOs cited strategic planning (50%), problem-solving (40%) and interpersonal and communication skills (35%) as crucial for success. To overcome the skills shortage, businesses will need to adopt flexible hiring strategies. This may involve hiring temporary staff who aide the digital transition to automation or speeding up the time it takes to hire strong candidates.

It is clear that technology will keep interacting with businesses and employers alike, shaping the way workplaces are organised. Without a doubt, however, human intelligence will remain at the forefront of the office, heralding technology as the enabler of successful organisational management.

The businesses which will thrive will be those that learn to couple the process and policy changes of digitisation with the need for human passion, creativity and innovation.

Written by Matt Weston, Managing Director at Robert Half UK

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