HR Management & Compliance, Technology

In an Age of Remote Work, Is a Happy Workforce a Distant Dream? Let AI Give You a Hand

I was recently talking to a college student who had joined an extremely popular multinational corporation. It was his first job after college, and naturally, he needed to be onboarded and trained. Like a lot of us, he was working from home, so he did not meet his supervisor or team in person. It was a weird experience for him.

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He had received a welcome e-mail from the company but still had no access to any of the other tools he needed, except his corporate e-mail. The welcome message came with four to five links to articles and videos about the company. He thought, “Well, it’s my first day. Things will get better.” He had his first call with his supervisor, who gave him the task to create a few reports from Salesforce. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t have access to the platform yet. He informed his boss and raised a ticket.

And then nothing.

He waited for a few days before he got a response. But the problem was not just in onboarding. When he wanted to learn about a new software or wanted to develop his skills, it was hard. In addition to this, he could not have coffee with colleagues to understand and learn what they do. There were monthly catch-ups with the team, but it seemed extremely noisy and chaotic, and it wasn’t easy for him to feel like a part of the team. He left within a year to join another organization. 

Is this the new post-COVID future that awaits us, or can we do better?

Unfortunately, we have entered the new world of flexible working, thinking a Zoom call once a month can solve everything. But what if we could reimagine my friend’s journey?

Here’s what his alternate first day could look like: An employee virtual assistant (EVA) recognizes him as a new employee and verifies his team and skills to enable the right software before he clocks in. Furthermore, a few virtual coffees are automatically set up for him to help him connect with and learn about his team. This will help him create a better bond with his new colleagues even in the new distributed work environment.

But it doesn’t stop there.

There is weekly automatic verification to see if he needs help with anything. His responses also enable a semantic understanding of his satisfaction and allow the company to evaluate whether he is unhappy and will look to switch organizations. With this information, organizations would be able to take the right steps to retain talent and help them feel included.

Of course, up to this point, we have only addressed onboarding and retention, but we cannot forget that an employee needs to grow.

With the current remote work conditions and even looking into what the future of work will look like, we need to do more to enable that growth. In a recent poll by ASTD taken by 1,179 organizations, 79% report skills gaps within their companies.

This is where creating and connecting skill maps can further enable a tool like EVA to automatically push training that can help employees grow. In addition to this, it can give them feedback and assignments to ensure they get the growth and learning they deserve.

We are moving to a future where the concept of how we work is completely transformed. We have an extremely exciting future ahead of us where we can truly excel and focus on areas that make a difference.

All of us have had days when we dreaded making the same Excel® sheet reports or completing the same tasks over and over again. With the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), many of these jobs will be made redundant, and if we do not upskill and help our teams develop their skills, we are looking at a bleak future.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe we are walking into a period where there will be mass unemployment due to AI. When technology is introduced, we don’t see a reduction in jobs but rather an increase in both employment and productivity. We have seen this happen with every major change and every industrial revolution. However, at the same time, what these changes create is displacement in the skill sets and opportunities.

So, the real question is: Do we learn, upskill, and enable our workforce for the future that is in front of us, or is the status quo good enough?

Pranay Jain is the Cofounder and CEO of Enterprise Bot. Originally from Pune, India, he studied business at Bentley University in the United States and developed a strong interest in information technology during his internship. His work with AI caught the British multinational bank Barclays’ attention, and the bank invited him and his team, his now wife and Enterprise Bot Cofounder Ravina Mutha, and Cofounder Sandeep Jayasankar to a hackathon in Mumbai, which would task them with the job of creating an effective chatbot for the bank. From there, he continued to grow his business, and in order to expand into Europe, he joined F10 in Switzerland.