AI will give workers back two weeks a year, says research

14 Sep 2018 By Maggie Baska

Study launched at Henley Business School conference reveals automated programmes could free up 12 working days per year in admin time

New research from Henley Business School has revealed that ‘AI assistants’ will give British workers over two working weeks back every year by 2030.

The research, released yesterday at Henley’s second annual World of Work conference, showed that artificial intelligence (AI) assistants could give workers back twelve working days a year by taking on a weekly average of 3.5 hours in admin tasks. 

Experts from Henley Business School explained how the majority of the workforce in the UK will be working with artificial intelligence on a daily basis by 2030, with technology such as AI assistants expected to be commonplace in the next decade.

“Excitingly, careers in the UK are becoming increasingly dynamic and fluid, however this holds as many challenges as it does possibilities,” says Naeema Pasha, director of Henley Careers.

“As the introduction of artificial intelligence into the workplace gives workers more time away from time-intensive admin tasks, business leaders will need to begin thinking about how their employees can use this ‘extra time’ to carry out more creative tasks and participate in meaningful training schemes to help develop a more fulfilled workforce,” she added.

The research also revealed that three quarters (74 per cent) of business leaders said they were not currently preparing their employees with the skills needed to work alongside AI in the future. Elsewhere at the conference, experts shared their own insights into how employers and HR professionals can prepare their organisations for the future:

HR will be critical when understanding the human impact of AI

It’s time to start thinking of the AI emergence as an opportunity for new professionals to come into the workforce, according to Rob McCargow, PwC UK’s director of AI. 

“The HR profession will be critical when understanding the human impact of this,” McCargow said. “We will need people who understand how AI aligns with businesses and their corporate standpoint.” 

He added that “humans will lose out” when companies start applying AI to become more cost-effective. However, he said that AI could lead to a strong increase in jobs if employers could “get workforce strategy right”.

Agile workforces will create energetic employees

“In work, I’ve seen how much energy has been created by an agile workforce,” Perry Timms, founder and CEO of People & Transformational HR (pictured), said. “This is energy where people seem to come together, and some of the solutions are right with us boxed up in a certain place.”

Timms said that many workforces develop energy through an approach to develop software. He explained that agile software development, under which solutions evolve through collaborative effort between self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers, can be used in organisational development. 

He advised that businesses “start somewhere” and experiment where that starting point should be. 

“Go with the people and places that want to go,” Timms said. “But it’s important to have different versions of different things.”

“Squiggly” careers will replace the old staircase career development model

Helen Tupper, commercial marketing director for Microsoft UK and co-founder of career coaching business Amazing If, said that “squiggly” careers – or those with no clear linear development in one organisation – have already started to replace older career development models. 

“The reasons organisations need to care about squiggly careers is they will need to equip employees with skills and know what their individual strengths are – which will lead to more productivity and less attrition,” Tupper said. 

Tupper added that employees should take ownership of their careers as they are the “asset” they take from company to company. She advised that workers test their strengths and skills in different contexts – possibly side hustles – to see how they could contribute more to their organisations.

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