While no one may have predicted just what 2020 would throw our way, my crystal ball is indicating that we have many more changes in store for 2021 — and some of them are promising, challenging and even a bit of fun for the workplace of the future.
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First, let me say that the only way to be ready for what the future holds for us is to quickly correct the mistakes we’ve made in the last year. Among them: More than 90% of organizations are engaged in some kind of digital initiatives today, but only 40% have brought these initiatives to scale as many businesses fail to take into account how important their people are to their digital transformation success. If these organizations are to be successful, this needs to change immediately and employees must be included in the planning and execution of transformative projects.
As for my predictions for 2021 and beyond, I believe that technology intersecting with human innovation will play a major role and temporary changes wrought by the pandemic will become permanent shifts in how we work. Going into 2021, I foresee:
1. Virtual play and social interaction will become the norm. Just as online gaming encourages socialization among players, the same is true of virtual workplaces. Encouraging employees to play games together or interact through music events online, for example, is a great way to forge stronger, friendlier connections that translate into a more collaborative team. Such online opportunities to play will also help networking efforts, whether it’s with new customers, vendors or employees from other departments. An added benefit is that play can spark creativity and a sense of adventure — critical if employees are to be innovative.
2. More robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s overstating it to say that robots and AI are going to take all of our jobs — implementing that technology is expensive and time-consuming — and technology can’t always do the same jobs as humans. But there have been huge changes in the way we work since the pandemic began, and as a result, more companies are pushing for automation and AI that will be able to do jobs that humans can’t do as well — or as safely.
3. There will be a greater reliance on remote training. Remote training costs less and requires less of a time commitment from participants who don’t have to travel to another site. It’s predicted that in 2024, training and industrial maintenance will take up the lion’s share of commercial use cases for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) with $4.1 billion invested in those fields. […]
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