On the Level

Blue-collar. White-collar. What about no collar? According to Deloitte’s tech trends report for 2018, the jobs of the future are evolving. Tomorrow’s jobs are all about training, explaining and sustaining, no collar required. It all comes down to collaboration between humans and technology.

Artificial intelligence (AI), automation and cognitive tech are shifting the way that corporations handle staffing. While the idea that bots will take over all human jobs is far-fetched, there are roles that will be handed over to tech-based functions, and others where that tech will augment a human role. 

Human traits like empathy, problem-solving, social skills and emotional intelligence are all the more important in this setting. Understanding how to find these qualities in workers and build a no-collar workforce is the key to giving your business a competitive advantage. This will give your business the best shot at growth for the future.

Focus on Hybridization to Start

The idea of a robot taking your job is scary. Even if this is an unrealistic concept, it’s one that frightens workers everywhere. To build your no-collar workforce, combat this misconception by focusing on hybridization.

When you approach the no-collar workforce with a mindset of building a hybrid culture between tech and humans, machines feel like less of a threat. Instead, we learn to see them as an added resource. Augmenting existing roles, plans and structures with appropriate technology makes your business work smarter, not harder. 

Workers who see the value in the machines and technology making their jobs less complicated are more apt to jump on board with additional tech. When that happens, it’s easy to find more places where you can automate and become more efficient.

When you hybridize, however, always remember that you should be using technology to meet your needs. Don’t make the mistake of adjusting your needs to meet whatever tech is enticing right now. Focusing on a needs-based transformation strategy ensures that the changes you make are worthwhile, and will show results.

Incentivize Qualities, Not Production

In a no-collar workforce, the lowest level, most repetitive and mundane tasks are the first to be fully automated. Productivity naturally boosts because of this. 

All of a sudden, your previous metrics for success won’t work anymore. Where you had once incentivized and rewarded production, you now have to look elsewhere to see how your human workforce is performing.

Those very human traits we mentioned earlier, including creativity and problem solving, are now the backbone of success. You will rely on your human workforce to find the best ways to use technology for your company. This is how your employees will see an increase in productivity.

Having a strong grasp of the tech you are using is an attribute that should not only be incentivized and rewarded, but sought out during the hiring process. You can improve this by creating training and educational opportunities for your staff, too.

Take a Deep Dive into Tech Research and Planning

To use tech to your best advantage, you need to know what’s out there. Among executive leadership, the IT department and human resources, your company should have a good handle on what technological advances could benefit your business. 

If you can set up a way to test new solutions before fully implementing them, or roll out pilot projects on a small scale first, it can be beneficial. With small test projects you can see how a certain technology could impact your company before committing, all the while researching additional tech.

Your augmented, no-collar workforce needs to be planned carefully, and managed well at every step. All levels of your business need to buy into this change. And it needs to become a part of the very core of your company culture.

The Time to Build is Now

Deloitte’s research says that as of 2017, 41 percent of surveyed companies reported full implementation or significant progress in adopting cognitive and AI technologies, with 34 percent of survey respondents working on pilot programs. Still, only 17 percent of executives said they are ready to manage a workforce comprising of both humans and machines. 

Having a solid plan for building an augmented, collaborative workforce could be the missing puzzle piece to see these numbers grow. 

The idea of adding technology and robots may be disconcerting. Knowing that one has to manage it all might be overwhelming. But with a careful, planned approach, even the most reluctant executives can get on board.

The time to do so is now. Change is already happening, and technology is evolving rapidly. Bringing your workforce up to speed is the only way to compete and succeed. 

Keep your company dynamic and focused on people and their skills rather than on specific jobs, and you’ll be moving in the right direction for building a successful, no-collar workforce.