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Future of Work: The Role of the Office, AI, and New Opportunities

Why has the globalization of the labor market changed so many paradigms? What is the role of the office today? Although algorithms and AI will be very important in the future of work, the human level will always make the difference. It is a priority that we can focus there to favor our well-being and development.

By Vera Babat

We know that the world of work has been completely reconfigured since the start of the pandemic, generating an unprecedented globalization of the labor market and multiplying employment opportunities by “eliminating” many barriers. 

It will soon be three years since this historic milestone, and many companies have been trying to gradually turn back the clock on some aspects of remote work. At Abstracta, we believe there is no way back to square one. A world of new possibilities has opened up before our eyes, and there is no way to erase all the lessons learned.

Old formulas are obsolete today, as well as imposing unique ways of working. It is time to reinvent rituals to allow ourselves a genuine openness in this sense. This adaptability and ability to reinvent ourselves will be key in the future of work, in which machines could perform the tasks of many roles, and the human aspect will take on new dimensions.

According to the latest World Economic Forum report, by 2025, “85 million jobs could be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles could emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms.”

We discussed this and much more at the panel “The Future of Work” at the first edition of the Quality Sense Conf, together with Kátherine Nuñez, from Vozy; Matías Boix, from Globant; and Mercedes Remedi, from Learninc, as moderator.

As Kátherine expressed, we are in a moment where the balance is tipping towards the hybrid: neither 100% face-to-face nor 100% remote. “What we’re doing in the technology industry is giving ourselves the space to get to know each other’s needs every day,” she said. 

“The interactions that are generated in person cannot be replaced. Having the opportunity to decide what everyone needs is leading the way,” he continued.

Along the same lines, Matías pointed out that the speed of the changes we are experiencing “broke a lot of paradigms” and that there are no certainties about what is “the ideal.” That is why many companies are testing different modalities. 

Before the pandemic, companies were used to being face-to-face and setting the pace. Since then, this constraint has finally broken down in the IT industry, and both companies, when hiring and individuals, when looking for a job, have been able to broaden their horizons.

From my experience as a clinical psychologist and as Chief Culture Officer of a company in the software industry, I believe that shared time in the office, and even the virtual space in which people meet to work together, is essential to build bonds. Connecting with others is a human need. So when we go to the office, it’s good to do so with intention, with a desire to interact, and openness to have convivial experiences.

I think it is crucial that “the office” continues to exist, but not as a structuring space of similar routines for all people. Today we have to see the office as physical support and safe working space for people. A place to work there when they want or need to, to connect with their peers from a different place, and to develop as they need to. 

That is why companies need to understand the new role of the office. Beyond the role that each company defines for its office, it is essential to adapt the work proposals, the way of working, and the agreements to the singularity of people’s needs. 

However, as the working relationship is a mutual choice, each proposal must be accepted in all its senses by those who join the company and see value in their life project. Thus, for people with jobs that are not easily replaceable, all this will be a reality. 

We are immersed in an industry that does not stop growing, and some positions and roles have the possibility of choosing formats and forms that were previously unthinkable. It is important, then, those working conditions are clear, explicit, and consensual to achieve healthy working environments. 

Why is all this important? Because we are humans, not machines. And while the future of work will be dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is precisely the human level that will always make the difference in our quality of life.

Artificial Intelligence with Human Traits?

AI is making great contributions to science globally and is slowly beginning to impact the job market. Recently, we learned about ChatGPT, a new chatbot from the company OpenAI, which can establish conversations with humans via text and perform multiple tasks. In its first week, it was used by millions of users.

It is expected that it will soon be able to write complete codes and even test them. So, unfailingly, many people began to wonder what would happen to their employability.

Does all this sound familiar? This is not the first time we have experienced such fears. It is known that after the Industrial Revolution, many jobs started to be performed by machines. But we don’t have to go that far: many software testers today fear their jobs will be completely replaced by automation through AI and Machine Learning. 

Is it possible to do empathic testing, considering what the other person needs? That’s where we’re going to differentiate ourselves from the machines and where we’re going to provide value for a long time to come.

“There are things that automation will not be able to do without automation being carried forward by humans. Automation is important to complement testing and not to replace it,” said WOPR29 Content Owner Andy Hohenner during a conference he gave at Quality Sense Conf.

AI will undoubtedly revolutionize our world in ways we cannot yet imagine. But I am convinced that, globally, it will be an enabler of new realities, and it will push us to keep learning continuously.

“I have a positive outlook on technological advances. We tend to be afraid because it is easier to see what we will lose than the new opportunities generated because we don’t know them,” remarked Matías Boix at the event.

“How do we create opportunities for those who do not have the possibility of reintegrating into the labor market? It is a place to reflect, with an optimistic approach about how we can be creators of those solutions,” asked and answered Katherine.

The truth is that we don’t have these answers. We are not algorithms, and we need time to stop and reflect. We need to cultivate a mindset that allows us to remain open to new possibilities, formats and modalities, and even new tasks within our fields, to which we may have more time to devote thanks to AI.

It is essential to connect with our life drive, to continue building in our work, and in pursuit of our society. This is something that undoubtedly requires us, humans, and that machines cannot do from our sensitivity, critical thinking, and creativity.

What Role Do Companies Play in All This? 

I believe that the role of companies as trainers will be key in the changes to come. This is not a new story, either. There are many countries that, in the post-war period, had to generate actions from their most diverse organizations to be able to comply with the things that were necessary at that time.

Companies will be major players in the future of work, in the education and training of people, not only in technical aspects but especially in what we call life skills. Only in this way will we be able to enrich the educational experience. 

Workspaces are central to people’s lives, and jobs are significant structures in their adult lives. Therefore, the impact that organizations can have as trainers for the future of work is crucial in today’s world and the future.

Working remotely, from different places, with people from other countries, and with AI starting to perform more and more tasks requires us to consider our work ethic and how we relate to people and technology. It implies that we have mega-explicit agreements with what is and is not expected of people and that we can develop where we excel as humans so that we don’t feel threatened and avoid escalating anxiety and burnout. 

Only if there is clarity will we be able to access the necessary tools that allow us to choose to work with well-being, to train and update ourselves with a focus on the future of work that is already looming.

How are you preparing for these changes? What role do you think companies have in the future of work? Tell us in the comments!

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