From this year, digital workers could act as mortgage advisors and recruitment specialists in the office


The workplace of the future will look a lot different to today

A few bean bags and beer fridges aside, the workplace hasn’t changed much for many decades – but that looks set to change drastically in the future.

Company bosses believe the adoption of digital workers within a hybrid workforce could accelerate in 2020.

And as technology becomes ever-more crucial to the modern-day business, CEOs could even move out of segregated glass-walled cubicles to sit next to software developers.

NS Business speaks to four executives about their predictions for the workplace of the future – and the changes that will begin to take-off in 2020.


Future of the workplace predictions

Developers sit with the CEO

James Dye, UK business director at commercetools

Professionals in the C-suite are listening to the technologists more closely than ever before.

Too many of them have seen what happens when they are overly trusting of vendors’ marketing and spin.

The phrase “nobody gets fired for buying IBM” is no longer true in 2020, and not all retailers can be tech businesses. Nor should they be.

They do, however, need engineers on their side who can ask the right questions and cut through the noise.

Cloud is a seismic shift and has reinvented how software is built, sold, and consumed.

With this proliferation of software options and customer touchpoints, engineers need a seat at the CEO’s table to help board members who are frozen in the headlights of innovation, across the road before it’s too late.


Rise of the hybrid workforce

Steve Haighway, European COO at IPsoft

By 2025, I predict that the desk-based workforce will be 50:50 human and digital workers – and over the coming few years, we’re going to see rapid adoption of AI-powered digital workers as we create this hybrid workplace.

Digital workers are already transforming the way that we interact with technology at work.

For example, insurance company Allstate is using AI assistant Amelia as a whisper agent to support customer service representatives in finding the right information to respond to customer queries.

And their capabilities are only going to become more impressive over the coming year, with businesses using AI to augment an increasing number of roles, and independently manage and execute ever-more complex and emotionally human-like tasks.

In 2020, expect to see digital workers acting as your mortgage advisor or as a recruitment specialist in your office.

diversity in tech, ai in workplace
(Credit: Tech Talent Charter)

These digital workers will take on time and information-intensive tasks, improving the speed and experience of customer interactions, while reducing the administrative burden on employees.


Danny Major, CTO at Thoughtonomy

With the capabilities and potential of a digital workforce more fully understood and intelligence use cases more easily accessible, there’s now a greater understanding of how this digital resource can benefit a business.

In 2020, I expect a shift in the complexity of the initial processes targeted for automation, with a move away from the hidden back-office use cases into more front line activities where digital workers interact with staff and customers in a more visible way.


Employees choosing their own salaries

Charles Towers-Clark, chairman of Pod Group

Over this past year, more and more companies have been becoming far more transparent in their operations, even when it comes to transparency in salaries.

This trend will continue throughout 2020 and beyond, especially as employees look for the more human elements of businesses, with the most engaging companies attracting the best talent.

I think we can even expect to see a small number of companies allowing employees to choose their own salaries.

Pod Group CEO Charles Towers-Clark, salary transparency
Pod Group CEO Charles Towers-Clark

The anger we have seen around large multinationals not paying their fair share in tax is also likely to grow, and non-profit objectives for companies will be a focus moving forward.

Cut-throat business practices are simply becoming less and less acceptable.

In the workplace itself, we will see a slow but steady shift towards companies forgoing traditional titles, roles and departments – and all the territorialism that goes with them – to instead focus on purpose-built projects outside of department lines.

Conversely, and unfortunately, I expect to see a wider division between those in jobs that allow for empowerment and those who work in order to survive.

CEOs will need to think harder about how to empower their employees, most notably gig economy and contract workers.