The realities of tomorrow’s workforce will require organisations to be more flexible in enabling the execution of work. Organisations are already working on their ability to build a distributed workforce, whether to tap into talent pools that live far from existing operations or to entice a population of nomadic workers who prefer to work with more flexibility. This need will intensify in the future in response to reduced budgets and geopolitical uncertainties that make it harder to move talent around the globe.
What’s more, it will not be enough to just get work done. Organisations must be able to continually re-skill employee workforce and build their capabilities, experts suggest. No matter where talents work, talent and population shortages, shifting demographics, and rapidly aging skill sets place a critical emphasis on learning and development. Companies must also deliver a compelling experience for their workforce, regardless of location. As a result, HR organisations will turn to emerging technologies to support the development and management of their distributed workforce.
Emerging technologies tend to fall into one of two buckets: those that demand new skills from workers, such as robotic process automation and cognitive agents, and those that support the development of new skills and ways of working. The latter can help to connect individuals across physical spaces, provide tailored coaching and development recommendations, and create virtual learning experiences. Thus, enabling the performance and productivity of a distributed workforce.
Collaboration technology that can connect the distributed workforce is essential to workforce experience and productivity. Organisations must shift their focus to fostering teamwork and collaboration, and thus productivity and engagement, especially as it becomes easier and easier to find gig work. Beyond basic email and chat systems, collaboration and work management tools help ensure accountability across different workstreams and provide visibility into related automated tasks.
Virtual coaching solutions help reduce the psychological distance between the learning opportunity such as coaching and an individual’s work. The ability to document and share immediate feedback on performance lets coaches offer real time perspective on their colleagues’ performance. These conversations can directly help to overcome challenges and celebrate the successes of work. Colleagues can schedule times to connect or correspond more casually with questions and tips for development. For greater scale and reach, automated chatbots will employ exploratory questioning and machine-learning capabilities to help surface new learning and development opportunities that match an individual’s capabilities, interests, development needs, and career aspirations, even ones not originally considered.
In addition to providing new ways of connecting and coaching, virtual tools have long enabled learning experiences that would otherwise not be possible. New technologies like VR headsets will help provide empathetic learning experiences from other perspectives or provide virtual environments that might be uncommon or unsafe in person.
External factors will continue to drive organisations to leverage their distributed workforce. But just because workers’ locations are different doesn’t mean their experience has to be. Organisations will look to emerging technologies to drive new ways of working and creating value, while fostering connection and development in the process. To do so, they will need to stay up to date on those technologies that can help them identify and respond to disruptions.