The rise of sophisticated technology has, for better or worse, fundamentally changed our daily lives, and as breakthroughs continue to be made at an exponential rate this is sure to only become more pronounced over the coming years. One such rising technology is artificial intelligence; much debated and endlessly sought after by many of the world’s leading tech companies, AI has the potential to shake up our personal and professional lives more than just about any previously seen technology.

Given the countless potential applications of AI technology and the plethora of ramifications both good and bad to work around, now is a crucial time for business owners and managers. Without proper preparation as to how to integrate these new technologies into the working environment, companies risk going in blind and subsequently paying a heavy price for their lack of forethought.

Unfortunately this aforementioned lack of proper preparation appears to be more widespread than you might expect, as a recent survey carried out by Alexander Mann Solutions confirmed. The survey found that while 69% of respondents expect some form of humanoid AI technology to enter the workplace by 2030, only 23% of senior HR professionals are taking steps to prepare the next generation for the rise of AI technologies.

Laurie Padua, director of technology and operations consulting at Alexander Mann Solutions, commented on the issue, “AI has the potential to add an estimated £654 billion ($814 billion) to the UK economy by 2035. However, the potential of any intelligent software is limited by the human talent responsible for commissioning, implementing and managing it.

“The successful implementation of effective systems relies on strong strategy and delivery. With this in mind, it is crucial that HR teams put in place strategic workforce plans to ensure that they not only have access to requisite technical skills, but also focus on investing in talent with adaptable core competencies which are currently difficult to recreate in machines, such as creativity and communication skills.”

So, what are the main areas to which business leaders need to pay attention? Consider the following when developing an AI strategy:

One area that should not be overlooked is Human Resources (HR) practices and technology; this can include people analytics, digital interview platforms, and chat-bots, among other software and technologies. These AI technologies general focus on ‘big data’, combining this with human insight in order to gather and understand pertinent information relating to personnel and their talents within the company.

When introducing these technologies, employers should make sure to review the vendor contracts and algorithms for employment law issues, such as whether the AI accounts for people with disabilities. Failure to do so could cause some pretty substantial headaches down the line.

Data privacy & security is also a highly-important consideration when implementing AI within an office or other working environment, as these technologies will typically collect and store large amounts of potentially sensitive information as part of their primary function, and this must be adequately protected.

Data breaches which lead to the unauthorised access of personally identifiable information (PII) could leave your company exposed on a legal front as you have a responsible to safeguard any data you may collect concerning your employees and visitors.

You should also time the time to look into any potential union issues & legal considerations relating to the utilisation of AI software. Employers with represented workforces may find that they need to bargain to some extent with labour unions over the introduction of AI, as these technologies will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on the individuals working alongside them.

Non-represented employers should also take care, making sure that the AI does not unlawfully interfere with employees’ right to engage in the organisation of activities, or the discussion of wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. 

It is also highly-recommended that you ensure that your company has proper transition policies in place, as the introduction of AI is sure to cause some disruption in the early days as adjustments are made and details are ironed out.

Policies worth considering, as reported by National Law Review, include; establishing guidelines for employee reductions and retirements, severance and career-transitioning programs, skills development and tuition reimbursement programs, job-sharing, and flexible work arrangements.

While it may be all too easy to push this issue to the back of your mind, you really can’t afford to wait until AI invades the office environment en masse before you start to make plans as to how to deal with the change, which will be substantial. Taking the time now to figure out these details will make life a lot easier for employers and employees alike when these technologies do become more prevalent in the office, so we advise all business owners to do so.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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