Future of workplaces: Machines will be your colleagues

A study published by Harvard Business Review underlines this, by showing how humans and machines can enhance each other’s strengths, creativity, speed and scalability.
Image used for illustrative purposes only. (Express Illustration)
Image used for illustrative purposes only. (Express Illustration)

A decade ago, it was difficult to imagine that smart machines can replace humans at workplaces. However, now with virtual counterparts, avatars and artificial intelligence-led services, workplaces are increasingly becoming automated. And, the combo of human workforce and smart machines is here to stay. The primary reason companies go in for automating their workplaces is to increase productivity. Does this mean humans will be replaced by machines in future? The answer is a resounding no, according to most experts.

What is likely to happen is, machines will take jobs that require speed and scale, complemented by creative inputs from human workforce. A study published by Harvard Business Review underlines this, by showing how humans and machines can enhance each other’s strengths, creativity, speed and scalability.

New tech for smart firms

A clutch of new-tech tools offers innovative solutions for organisations to grow fast by optimising workforce spread across cities by blurring the boundary between the physical and the virtual world.

These include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), cloud computing, digital twins, chatbots, and virtual assistants. In virtual reality meetings, employees can join from anywhere as the physical distance just doesn’t matter. They can join the discussions, brainstorm and effectively collaborate just like in in-person meetings. Big tech companies are already showcasing their VR technologies in developer conferences.

What VR meetings do is, they offer a sense of presence by allowing participants, separated by thousands of miles, to feel as if they are in the same room. In such meetings, each participant wears a VR headset and the others are visible as their ‘digital avatars’. These look like a cartoon version of them. Experts say in future, VR headsets would be a common sight in offices and even in classrooms. Imagine wearing one at any place and operating multiple screens including email, and attending meetings at the same time!

When Meta launched Quest Pro, the advanced headset was much talked about as one can collaborate, invite others to join your space and also work on shared designs in real-time. AR, on the other hand, can be used in marketing, design and sales activities.

Companies can capitalise on these technologies for maximum profitability and scalability. The difference between AR and VR is that the former uses real-world settings while the latter is completely virtual. AR enhances real-world experience through digital visual elements including VR tools. For instance, if organisations want to train employees or in the case of sales, they can use VR applications that allow clients/employees to walk through a mock environment virtually and experience the real-life application of that particular product.

Tech-driven future

Going forward, automation and metaverse (a 3D virtual space powered by VR, AR, AI, Internet of Things and blockchain) are likely to play a very dominant role at workplaces. “At present, IoT, AR/VR and AI are the most commonly used technologies across sectors like IT/ITes, BFSI, e-commerce, manufacturing and automobile as they of fer opportunities to hyper-automate recurring business functions like predictive analysis, skilling & development, customer service, sales & marketing and quality testing,” says Anjali Raghuvanshi, chief people officer, Randstad India.

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