In 30 years’ time around 6 billion people will live in cities. That’s an extra 2.5 billion. This will shift expectations for how we live and play, but also how we work. In what are already the most populated areas, that’s 40% more people needing employment, 40% more people commuting to work.
But with Artificial Intelligence driving the 4th industrial revolution happening around us, what role will humans play?
Reimagining work in the age of AI
AI, or machine learning, can sense, comprehend, think, act, and learn, so machines get more intelligent. It is moving faster than any other technology and has a bigger impact. It can do certain tasks quicker and more efficiently than us. It will take a lot of jobs we currently do. The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2018 predicts that 75m jobs could be lost, most of which are labour intensive roles like auditors, cashiers, data entry clerks and even lawyers. And amongst the jobs that could be created are high skilled and high tech – but labour light; like big data specialists and robotics engineers.
Businesses are responding. They’re no longer recruiting large numbers of assembly and factory workers or admin managers. Most of investment is in the latest technology. Look at places like Bangalore or Gurgaon in India, where whole districts are being developed around AI. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Workspaces are not just being optimised for machines.
In the future, AI could actually result in more people coming to the workplace.
To begin with, AI will collaborate with people, not compete with them. It will automate repetitive tasks, so we can focus on the real value add. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, JLL hosted a panel discussion. One of the speakers was Paul Daugherty, the Global Technology and Innovation Officer at Accenture and author of Human + Machine: Reimagining work in the age of AI. He said that artificial intelligence could actually be better named as collaborative intelligence.
As a graduate surveyor at the start of my career, I couldn’t wait to start doing deals, meeting clients, etc. But I spent most of my time reading leases. Making sure every little detail was correct. It was pretty tedious. But there was nobody else to do it. But at JLL we’re working with Leverton, who apply AI technology to automatically read leases for us. Our graduate surveyors are now freer to develop client relationship skills, rather than be sat at a desk reviewing documents.
We can see what an AI workplace could look like [see video to the right]. At first glance it marginalises the role of humans, but look again, and all the technology is just to make our lives easier.
Plus, there are key human skills that just can’t be replaced by machines: Complex problem solving; Sensory perception; Social & emotional response; Creativity.
Create an environment where Human Experience thrives
More than ever leaders have a responsibility to create an environment where human experience thrives. Bring a sense of purpose. A feeling of togetherness. A hospitable place.
This isn’t about fancy gadgets.
Did you know the No.1 workplace gripe is office temperature?
80% of complaints at work are about being too hot or too cold.
If you can sort that out, or better yet, allow individuals to control the environment around them for themselves. Get that right, and you get a happy and productive workforce. Look at Silicon Valley. It’s as known for its offices as its algorithms and coding. Optimisation cannot be prioritised at the expense of human experience.
More importantly, leaders should create a community – a sense of belonging with a diverse range of people who can come together to create solutions. Yes, creativity could be the key differentiator in business. I haven’t seen any evidence that machines can master this…yet.
This article is based on Guy Grainger’s keynote speech at the Global Female Leaders 2019 in Berlin. For more information about human experience please see JLL’s global research study and report