Workplace 2025: Role and Impact of Technologies in Productivity

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Ramathreya Krishnamurthi, Business Head-TimesJobs, TechGig & Jobbuzz interacts with Zia Askari from about the future of workspace and how emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence are going to impact on the productivity of future workforce.

How do you look at this future of workspace, you are defining it as Workplace 2025? So, from a technology standpoint, how do you look at technologies which are going to impact the workplace in the year 2025?

There are two aspects. If you look at jobs, there are two kinds of jobs. One is the low-end jobs, which can be done by, for example, looking at an email and replying to it. Or maybe telling you how the weather is? what’s the temperature? So, there are those low-end jobs, for which you don’t need people.

So, you don’t need people to do these jobs. We have systems, machines, and software doing these jobs. That will continue to happen. So, today I feel that for the bottom 10-15% of current jobs, we don’t require so much human intervention. It could go to robots, it could go to software, it can go to bots too.

In the next few years Salman Khan will not do one year or two movies a year, he might do 100 movies a year. Because today, you can pick up anyone, implant artificial intelligence on that person and then make him speak whatever you want, make him do whatever you want. So, maybe we’ll go there. Maybe, Amitabh Bachchan will be in 10 movies not in one movie…will be in 100 movies. So, technology can enable all that.

So what has happened in the last 10 years was, before 10 years, we all never cracked that AI is all about giving intelligence to a machine. The machines are becoming faster everyday. Now if you add emotional intelligence or some cognitive capacity to the machine, right, then suddenly the machine becomes even more intelligent…even more capable.

So, how do you look at the, in this scenario, how do you look at the future workspace at a time when the Artificial Intelligence is there, at a time when business intelligence is there? So, what kind of impact will this have towards the productivity of employees?

What we are getting in…you might not have a workspace. You might have work but you might not have a workspace. People need not be…we are saying that people need not go to their offices to work. We are experiencing it right now.

We don’t have that one shelter which you call office. What is your office? Your office might be a group in a website…on Internet.

You have Facebook for your company.  So people have realized that the entire platform where all of you together or all of us will be together is the new workspace. Now, what we are also saying here is…now you have this one-to-one thing, right? If I work for a company, I work for only one company. I have set rules. I can’t work for 10-15 different companies. I can’t do that, right? Then I’ll lose some benefits, right?

Now, future, I tell you. Future work…What I said about work is future work would be about solving awesome big problems. The small ones will be anyway go to machines, right?

Now the big problems have to be really solved by the people who are good. Now people who are good are limited in number in the world, right? I’ll give you an example from our own company…If I want to make the best product, I will need the best engineer, best software engineer…so the best software engineer might not be in India. Might be in the US somewhere. Might be working for Amazon or Google. So, as a business, for me, I might as well use that person, right? Now, if that person is available to do my job…so, there’s a possibility of…If I pay him enough money…my problem gets solved.

So, what you are saying is people…one guy will do many jobs?

The workplace is the internet community or the internet platforms or the network you have. See, what is a company? Company is a network, right? Made of people…network of people where you have customers, where you have vendors, where you have others, right? Where you have employees. So network could be a physical network or a virtual network.

So, workplace will become a virtual network. And then the virtual network of not only people who are specifically working for that company or that work but who are doing multiple work. I might, see for example, I might know coding, I might be good in, say, singing, I might be in a different work, workspace, right? So, I think that’s where we going to go in. And then future would be where an…then also the other aspect is future people will realize that, especially people at the top level that work is not only about the…life is not only about work, life is about happiness as well. So, people will not only do their work for money, for running their houses but will also do work for their fulfilment.

So, what kind of trends do you see in this space which are telling you that this is going to happen?

Yes! I tell you. One trend is about Office Stress. People are really stressed. So there is enough stress. Then you start reading things which will start affecting your mind, you get angry there. And once you reach the office, there what happens is people get stressed when they don’t understand the work. But when you recruit someone, now you have to recruit…you recruit someone understanding the skills and you give them some job to do.

I think the self-assessment part is a very important aspect and I am talking from the entire job aspect which is the space we are in. Before people apply to a job or even think of getting a job, they assess themselves.

Matching the right candidate to the right job, right? And it starts with, as I said, right job description, define the job very well and have the right assessed candidate. Once we are able to match both…I think technology can make these things right.

One thing which is posing a lot of challenge today is on the issue of retaining of the talent where lot of companies have a huge workforce and they face a lot of issues when it comes to retaining the right kind of people, how do you think technology can play a role towards ensuring that you have certain level of loyalty with the company?

There is a very simple principle, right? If you trust anyone, if you trust someone, he will prove you right. If you distrust someone, he will still prove you right. So there…and if you match this whole philosophy against the fact that it is less expensive to retain someone than to replace someone. For example, if you have someone who is doing a job and then you have a cost, right? You have a cost to replace that person with a new person. So that cost is always more than the cost of replacing the person.

And you say…and then you have this technology landscape, you have some people who are problem solver for your customers. So, you create a software in such a way that the software provides inputs. If I have 500 people working for me in…every month I have so many people coming in and so many people going out, then what is the right balance? So that software can give you knowledge and insights.

But that side, you also need to look at the feedback mechanism. You need to look at, maybe, you know, one of the things around the tension is to hear employees, right? For example, if someone is there in your system for a long time and you really don’t know that what is bothering that person, you don’t have proper feedback mechanism, then it becomes difficult to know. One fine day, you come to know that okay…So there is the technology. Today, if you see, you have impact in…in the discussion, we have AI. People are using bots, right? So at workplace, you have bots. Bots typically ask you how’s your mood in the morning and how’s your mood in the evening.

Now if you can summarize your thoughts what are, in your opinion, what are the top, let’s say top three technologies which are which you think are going to impact the future workforce in future workplace?

One definite thing is Artificial Intelligence. See AI is the trend everywhere. That will be a common aspect. Second, second trend actually is globalized workforce.

And the third trend is the pay part. I feel that there will be technology where you’ll have a common currency. But you might end up having a common currency which is accepted on global turf.


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