Tomorrow’s Workplace: Humans and AI Co-existing as Colleagues

Photo credit: iStockphoto/HbrH

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken over the way we live, work, and do business. In the Asia-Pacific region, businesses are adopting advanced AI faster than their counterparts in the rest of the world. Setting out to be the trailblazer in the region, Singapore developed a National AI Strategy in late 2019 to construct frameworks to better facilitate the adoption of AI capabilities. Governments and companies alike are now forging ahead in driving business improvements by integrating AI technology in their functions.

AI-generated innovation is also fostering optimism across the region. In the workplace and across departments, it has matured into a catalyst that has helped improve employee efficiency and wellbeing. It is establishing a new work atmosphere where human capital resources co-exist with robots or digital assistants and where the primary benefits encompass improved productivity, efficiency and profitability.

Growing positivity for AI in the workplace

For decades, AI has aroused both fear and excitement. There has been widespread fear of the possibilities of increased unemployment on account of workplace automation. However, in reality, Asia Pacific’s (APAC) perception towards AI in the workplace has shifted more positively as more people developed a better understanding of AI and its applicability in the workplace to manage productivity.

According to a study conducted by Oracle and human-resources advisory and research firm, Future Workplace, APAC markets are approaching the future of AI in the workplace with readiness and excitement, ranking these attributes higher than feelings of concern, fear, uncertainty or indifference. A large majority (80%) of APAC countries surveyed said more than half of their workers are using some form of AI in the workplace. Singapore stands slightly ahead of the global average (50%), with 56% of workers having adopted AI at work.

More interestingly, 84% of people surveyed in Singapore also said they trust robots more than their managers. Employees here cited providing unbiased information, maintaining work schedules, and problem solving as areas robots excel in as compared to human managers.

Delivering smart, intuitive, informed HR to support the business directly

The rising affinity toward AI has increased its adoption in specialized business functions. Take Human Resources (HR) for example. As businesses become more complex and the need to hire resources with modern skills grows, the war for talent mounts. HR departments have begun to use AI to optimize both their recruitment functions and back-end processes, boosting levels of efficiency and performance.

In APAC, 76% of talent acquisition professionals are already using AI as a sourcing tool. It reportedly generates higher-quality candidates to stop unconscious biases and ensure a fair hiring process. HR departments are now starting to deploy AI in their recruitment processes, to help them screen candidates by assessing copious data points objectively while even being programmed to ignore candidates’ demographic information.

Automation of more manual tasks through AI allows HR managers to focus their time on more strategic assignments such as attracting, developing and keeping top talent. By using AI-powered human capital management (HCM) technologies, HR managers can harness valuable data-driven insights on employees and their training and career development needs. This enables HR practitioners to execute faster, smarter business decisions and keep up with fast-paced market demands and changes.

In Singapore, The Salvation Army Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar (SMM) Territory serves underprivileged communities in these countries, providing care to and fulfilling the basic needs of the marginalized. Recognizing the limitations it faces with manpower, The Salvation Army SMM Territory leverages Oracle’s HCM Cloud to automate its HR processes. This has resulted in the organization streamlining cumbersome HR processes and increasing the flexibility of the HR function. These tasks include onboarding and accessing employee performance evaluations, recruiting and employee trainings.

Preparing the workforce for the future AI world

Given AI’s multiple benefits to the workforce and HR managers, AI is here to stay. According to the study by Oracle and Future Workplace, Singapore ranked fourth with 41% of workers saying they felt excited about the technology. To capitalize on this surge of AI applications and services, companies need to bridge the gap of the rapid advancement in technology with employee preparedness to support the upskilling and re-skilling of employees. It is now of paramount importance for organizations to acknowledge the need to invest in new skills development, so they remain relevant in the workforce.

As AI continue to change the role of employees and managers at work, one of the most critical ways that managers can upskill to remain relevant is by fostering stronger relationships with their staff and excelling in areas where technology falls short. By embracing aspects of emotional intelligence, such as personalizing the experience to reflect their reports individually, providing coaching for employees and creating a conducive work culture, human managers can work in tandem with their AI counterparts without becoming “obsolete”.

Paolo Maraziti, vice president for applications in Asia Pacific and Japan at Oracle, wrote this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/HbrH