Can you remember watching “Back to the Future” and thinking how crazy some of the predictions of the future appeared? Let’s take a look at HR into the future.
When the movie was released in 1989, did you really imagine living in a world with drones, fingerprint recognition or video phone calls? It seemed completely outlandish!
Yet here we are living in the reality of those predictions and preparing ourselves for even further advancements. The same is true for human resources. The industry has opened its eyes on what’s to come and is actively seeking opportunities to keep up for the sake of the employees and also for the sake of the strategic direction of the company.
So what will happen in the realm of HR? Let’s take a look below as we highlight areas of what’s to come.
Year 2023: Remote workforces, virtual classrooms and outsourcing
The acceptance and eventual implementation of remote workforces will become the norm. Employees and talent pools will no longer be separated by time zone or location. Increased use of meeting tools like Zoom and ezTalks will serve as a way to unite all team members from their chosen locations.
With features like screen sharing, HD video conferencing and integrated scheduling options, it will be easier than ever to conduct productive virtual meetings and conferences.
A report by Forbes stated that global spending on corporate training has climbed to over $130 billion. To justify this type of spending, it clearly has to be effective. The virtual classroom approach allows for more fluid training techniques.
For instance, training materials can be quickly updated to reflect changes in laws or company policies. This is much more cost effective when compared to printed material that not only takes longer to be revised and reprinted, but is also more costly.
So in which areas would this type of training be most effective? A few examples include:
- New hire orientation: New employees can easily learn about a department by clicking on the appropriate section from their phone.
- Equipment and machinery training: Trainees can experience a real-life simulation by interacting with the equipment.
- A complement to instructor-led training: Trainers can insert digital media to expand upon the training component.
- Machine installation and repairs: This could essentially replace reading cumbersome repair manuals and provide ease of installation and/or repairs.
It is often a struggle for businesses to determine the value of keeping certain operations in-house or outsourcing operations. If the goal of outsourcing is for a company to cut its costs and focus on their own core competencies, then it strategically it must be considered.
As outsourcing grows, much of the focus will be on the gig economy. The gig economy allows workers to come in and out as needed whether as a contractor or freelancer. Such technology platforms like Upwork have positioned companies and freelance workers to come together based on specific specific areas of expertise.
Logically, it just may not make sense to take the time to develop internal talent expertise when the talent already exists at affordable rates and is easily accessible by just a few mouse clicks. For this reason, many companies will increasingly prefer independent contractors and freelancers over permanent employees.
Year 2025: Robotic process automation, AR and remote workforce advancement
Robotic process automation
The Institute of Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI) defines robotic process automation as the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications.
This could be processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems. In simpler terms, it is software running on a physical or virtual machine. This is most specifically applicable in businesses that have high-volume, highly repetitive process functions like data entry.
It will automate repetitive production tasks to cut time and costs and, of course, improve efficiency. When combined with actual human intelligence, it is expected to result in a more well-rounded workforce.
Augmented realty (AR)
AR market growth is projected to reach $2.8 billion by 2023. This engaging technique could be game-based learning or animated video, text and images. The interactive approach works well with both internal employee training and external client training. It allows for the simulation of real-life situations without the negative consequences.
For instance, surgeons can practice operations without injuring a patient or astronauts can prepare for space missions without the fear of an irreversible error. Leaders can use A/R to create more empathy for others which will support diversity and inclusion, and task-oriented leadership development initiatives.
Overall, the correct use of AR results in:
- Cost reduction
- Real-world practice
- High level of engagement
- Greater convenience
- Incremental improvement
Another benefit for augmented reality is that it is easily accessed. There is no need for the trainee to go offsite. Instead, the training can be readily accessible by phone, tablet or computer.
Positive, consistent training drives satisfaction and retention for both employees and external clients. Overall, it provides a low-cost solution to enhance eLearning techniques.
Remote workforce advancement
Trends have already been established to show that employees desire the option of remote working arrangements and flexibility. Increased use of agile employment models will allow maximum flexibility and minimum constraints on how and where employees choose to do their work.
The Workplace 2025 Report conducted by Randstad US projects a massive shift toward the agile employment model.
Randstad North America CHRO, Jim Link, said, “More workers have changed their perceptions of non-permanent employment, choosing to pursue agile work because it offers them greater control, growth and even job security.
This mindset shift, combined with growing availability of collaborative technologies to facilitate work from anywhere, anytime and on any device means the notion of having to work a traditional 9-5 day in an office is disappearing.” This model has shown to increase employee productivity and satisfaction while also providing cost savings for businesses and increasing the talent pool.
Year 2027: Data analytics/Usage and hologram conferencing
Institutions and departments can easily become overwhelmed by large volumes of data. Whether it is determining how to gather data or the best way to sift through incoming data, technological advancements will help to make this process more meaningful and effective.
One instance of technology in data analytics and usage is Howspace AI. This tool has allowed the automation of a typical tedious and manual process of sorting through pages of dialogue to only pull out the most frequent and significant information.
The process has also eliminated any bias by excluding the human analysis piece. This way, organisations can focus on what’s truly trending and important without any skewed perspectives.
We’ve seen the use of hologram technology in onstage performances to represent the presence of Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston postmortem. But in the business world, it will contribute in a different capacity.
By 2027, well over half of the workforce is expected to be working remotely. And while technological tools will allow for ease of communication, there will still be value in face-to-face meetings. A possible solution? Hologram conferencing. This can place two or more individuals in the same virtual conference room.
According to Fast Company, Microsoft is already working with the mixed-reality content company Spatial to further develop an effective system. By wearing a “HoloLens,” participants can access data from Microsoft apps and the tool can also track eye movements to convey levels of human emotion.
Hologram conferencing is well on its way to adding another crucial element to effective remote communication solutions.
So what do we take from this? Change. Advancements. Efficiency. Cost savings. All of these are great, but we have to be prepared to accept that the future will look much different than today. And that’s ok because today looks much different than it did five or ten years ago.
Yet here we are using what we’ve learned and applying it toward the next steps of a more positive future. The key to all of this is investment. If we don’t invest our time, resources, data, and knowledge now – we will not progress. In order to change and grow, we must let go and leap into a brighter and more technologically advanced future.
About the Author
Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, social/organisational psychologist and author of more than 11 books on leadership and management including his newest book just released by McGraw Hill: In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace.
He has lectured globally in the U.S., Middle East, and Asia on his work and research in organisation and leadership development, and was named one of Global Gurus Top Organisational Culture Gurus in the world.