Automation of routine work with artificial intelligence (AI), digital dexterity, and hybrid work with distributed workforce will be three key trends impacting the future of work that CIOs should focus on.
“In 2020, organizations across the world experienced a sudden surge in remote workers. During this shift, workforce automation, digital dexterity and hybrid working delivered significant business value, revenue growth and helped organizations maintain business continuity,” said Rashmi Choudhary, principal research analyst at Gartner.
She added that the dependence on technology to promote collaboration and a sense of belonging so that remote workers stay connected and engaged in the ‘new normal’ will be more important than it has ever been before.
Gartner recommends that CIOs and IT leaders focus on three future of work trends to ensure their organizations are well-positioned coming out of the pandemic.
AI predominates in routine work automation
AI is already automating large parts of routine work to direct employee focus toward higher value, nonroutine work.
AI and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies in the enterprise are expected to accelerate and have the potential to automate large swaths of routine work when the duties are fast, known and repeatable.
Gartner forecasts global RPA software revenue will increase 19.5% in 2021, and continue to grow at double-digit rates through 2024.
AI will make inroads into many aspects of nonroutine and cognitive tasks performed by knowledge workers. Few jobs will be replaced by AI, but almost all jobs will experience some automation or augmentation.
Organizations that embrace a combination of humans and machines complementing each other's capabilities will enable their employees to perform their jobs more effectively than either human experts or AI-enabled machines working alone.
Digital dexterity will become critical
Organizations can build competitive advantage by enabling the digital dexterity of the next-generation workforce. As organizations accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, a strong digitally dexterous workforce will become critical.
CIOs and IT leaders should focus on expanding the IT charter and work closely with HR leaders to include helping employees rapidly embrace new technology and invest in algorithms and well-structured training programs that identify worker skills and competencies to improve digital dexterity.
“Skills are described as the new currency for talent. They are a foundational element for managing the workforce within any industry. Improved and automated skills detection and assessment allows for significantly greater organizational agility,” said Choudhary.
Hybrid working with a distributed workforce
Gartner research revealed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely post-pandemic, as compared to 30% in a pre-pandemic world.
“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend, forcing many organizations to move a large proportion, if not all, of their workforce to remote work. Post-COVID-19, many employees will want to work remotely more than they did prior to the pandemic,” said Choudhary.
Organizations will expand their hybrid worker population to enable more flexibility of workforce management, both for cost savings and to address temporary absences due to illness or caregiving.
There is a renewed interest among IT and HR organizations in next-generation remote work platforms which improves time and attendance; scheduling; absence management; and task management for hybrid workers.