How Artificial Intelligence is Making Workplace Leaders More Productive
No matter how we feel about artificial intelligence in the workplace, we can’t deny its transformative power. Today, the ratio of humans to machines is about 70:30, with artificial intelligence automating processes that are mostly transactional, routine or predictive, said Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, JLL Strategy + Innovation, in a recent JLL webinar on the future of work.
In the next 25 years, Miscovich predicts we’ll see a 50:50 split, with employees collaborating much more closely with their machine counterparts. It may seem hard to imagine, but it’s already happening.
Here are five examples of how AI is transforming the workplace and how to prepare for it.
Artificial intelligence in the workplace: 3 emerging applications
1. Automating routine tasks
One of the most popular applications of artificial intelligence in the workplace is task and process automation. AI-driven automation (also known as robotic process automation) is different from traditional automation. In traditional automation, a developer creates a program that performs the same tasks over and over with no variation.
With robotic process automation (RPA), the software learns over time how to accomplish the task or execute the process faster and with greater efficiency. Unlike traditional automation, which operates in the background of specific platforms, RPA operates at the user interface level, which means it can be personalized for individual users and easily integrated with multiple solutions.
Many companies have incorporated RPA into their customer support and tech support teams to assist with simpler and more straightforward issues, such as resetting passwords. This frees the IT team up to work on more complicated problems. Many organizations have also begun applying RPA to their onboarding process, such as sending new hire documentation and inputting employee information into the HR database. This allows for a more streamlined workplace experience from the start.
2. Improving space planning and space forecasting
The pandemic brought the importance of intelligent space planning to the forefront as companies rearranged floor plans to promote social distancing and support a hybrid workplace. We saw the emergence of space management solutions powered by intelligent algorithms, including Space-Right™ by iOFFICE + SpaceIQ.
These solutions have made it easier for workplace leaders to make adjustments as conditions change. They can increase or decrease the physical distancing parameters between desks, and the Space-Right algorithm automatically reconfigures their floor plan to account for those changes. It also provides recommendations for repurposing potentially unsafe spaces, such as small conference rooms or common areas.
Artificial intelligence can also improve space forecasting.
AI-powered technology can review historical space utilization data and real-time sensor data to quickly offer insight into how much space companies will need in the future if they continue to grow at the same rate or if other variables change.
3. Improving corporate real estate management
Corporate real estate leaders are increasingly relying on proptech to plan and manage buildings while providing a better tenant experience. Artificial intelligence enhances these solutions, transforming data into real-time models leaders can use to more accurately predict certain scenarios.
This can help them understand the implications of choosing a certain site over another as they plan office relocations or new construction, for instance. AI can use certain criteria, such as available labor, transportation, and tax incentives, to help CRE leaders rank sites they are considering so they can find the best option faster and more objectively.
It can also give them a better understanding of how tenants use space so they can make adjustments in real time.
4. Streamlining facility maintenance
Autonomous floor cleaners, or Auto-C machines, use sensors to navigate a pre-programmed path to make facilities maintenance teams more efficient. The cleaners are also connected to the cloud, allowing owners to easily access space utilization data, operation alerts, and analytics reports the machines generate.
These floor cleaners can clean and disinfect large spaces, freeing up facilities teams for more strategic tasks like maintaining building systems and capital planning.
Artificial intelligence in the workplace is also enabling them to shift toward more predictive maintenance. With Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, they can establish baselines for asset performance indicators (such as vibration, temperature and sound) and determine upper and lower limits for each. Following these initial measurements, sensors continue to collect data about the asset’s utilization and transmit it to AI-enabled software.
The software uses current performance data along with historical data to ensure the asset is functioning properly and informs the facilities team when an asset is heading towards failure so it can be serviced before there’s an issue.
5. Enhancing collaboration in the digital workplace
Many organizations are just beginning to fully embrace a hybrid workplace where employees seamlessly collaborate in person and virtually. Artificial intelligence can enhance nearly every job function, helping HR professionals find the right candidates faster to helping marketing professionals optimize advertising budgets.
When everyone has access to these tools, they can work together to make better decisions faster.
In a survey of 2,000 managers by Boston Consulting Group and MIT, 59% of those who used artificial intelligence in the workplace reported better collaboration. Additionally, 78% saw improvements in efficiency and decision-making.
How will artificial intelligence in the workplace impact your employees?
Artificial intelligence in the workplace is already changing the nature of work. Research by the World Economic Forum shows we’ll see 75 million jobs disappearing over the next two years but 133 million new jobs emerging in key sectors—including jobs for data analysts, AI and machine learning specialists, software developers, and digital transformation specialists.
While artificial intelligence will replace some jobs—especially those that are highly repetitive—it will enhance many others. For instance, artificial intelligence applications are being developed to better integrate virtual workplaces with physical ones. In the future, AI could very well be used to make our meetings more connected and immersive, allowing us to collaborate better with our remote colleagues. It could transform the way we learn. Some analysts believe that by 2025, the quality of the virtual experience will be as good as the physical one.
Artificial intelligence in the workplace will also empower us to be more creative thinkers and problem-solvers. AI is already automating many functions, but there’s no substitute for innovative workplace leaders with a vision.
There are several ways you can harness the potential of artificial intelligence and help your workforce adapt. Here are a few recommendations.
Look for AI solutions that integrate with existing technology
Employees can be reluctant to embrace new solutions if they require significant changes in the way they work. The best way to increase user adoption is to focus on solutions that integrate with the technology you already use. Instead of entirely replacing your process for reserving meeting rooms, for instance, look for a solution that connects with your existing email providers so reservations will appear on their calendar. Artificial intelligence can enhance room reservation software by remembering employee preferences, suggesting available rooms by location, and making reserved rooms available again if sensors don’t detect any activity after a certain period of time.
Invest in employee training
Even the most advanced technology is only as effective as the employees who use it. While a PwC survey shows 40% of employees believe their digital skills improved during the pandemic, many others have been left out. The report found training opportunities tend to focus on those who already have higher skill levels, and two out of five employees believe their job will be obsolete in five years.
Upskilling is especially important in industries that have the most risk for disruption.
Help employees understand what they’re gaining
Managing any change in the workplace can be difficult, but it’s much easier if you’re communicating it well. Before implementing new solutions, your leadership team should make it clear why you’re making this update and how it will benefit employees and support business objectives.
Give employees a way to share their feedback, and be willing to address any concerns they may have.
Before you implement new solutions, start by evaluating what you currently have. Our workplace assessment can help you take a holistic look at your technology and see how it compares to your peers at similar organizations.
You’ll also get a customized report with next steps. Take the assessment today.