Chatbots, automation, home offices? Experts talk our post-Covid future

Before the coronavirus pandemic upended the world as we know it, offices played an integral role in modern life.

Packed with people and technology, these buildings were hubs of networking, idea generation and deal making.

How things have changed. Today, vast swathes of office space remain eerily quiet as many people across the globe continue to work from home.

At the start of the 2000s, such a shift would have been difficult. For one thing, internet connections were far slower back then, not to mention temperamental.

What’s more, the connected devices we now so heavily rely on — smartphones, tablets, fast, powerful laptops — were still some years off from becoming the norm both at home and in the workplace.

Given that video conferencing, email and fast download speeds are now par for the course, making working from home far less of a challenge, could some of these changes be permanent?

The importance of brick and mortar

Automation and chatbots

As the discussion progressed, talk turned to the use of technology — specifically automation — within the workplace.

The panel’s moderator, CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick, referenced a recent survey of CIOs from Harvey Nash and KPMG which found that 71% of respondents were anticipating an increasing use of automation.

He floated the idea that such a shift could result in less collaboration and a reduction in jobs.

“Different jobs, I’m not sure about less jobs,” was the reply from Bev White, chief executive officer of the Harvey Nash Group.

“Taking away the boring, repetitive, perhaps not so exciting work and giving … the more interesting work to the humans I think is (what) … we’re talking about here,” she added.

“So automation to remove the less interesting roles. I think, for sure, there (are) … more opportunities, I believe, for people in this new world, not less.”

The conversation turned to the use of chatbots, and the way in which human roles could dovetail with their deployment.

The Harvey Nash Group’s White explained that when buying products online or attempting to get support from a website, “typically you get a chatbot … interacting with you.”

“They can only help you so far, and often you’re handed off to a human being,” she added.

“So, the manager is keeping an eye on that interaction and the hand off points, really being very clear about … the customer experience here, because we are humans that like human experience.”

Source Article