Future of Work Trends – Automated, Flexible but Needing Fairness
The future of work is the future of so much more. As the lines between work and life are blurred, emerging technologies can shape the environment we live in and what it feels like to be ‘on the clock’. We look forward to a world where these technologies promote fairness, efficiency and responsibility in employment. Furthermore, we should look forward to automation allowing us to enjoy less work and more play. Key trends we can see in the future of work lie within efficient recruitment and the opportunity for flexible working.
Artificial intelligence will be used more often in recruitment, where an algorithm will refine and search for what the organisation deems to be nearest to the ideal candidate. In theory, this function could be a marvel in combatting traditional, human discriminations against women, people of colour, people with disabilities, etc. However, a Harvard Business Review article recently criticised such algorithms when it came to gender bias, indicating that AI may actually contribute to “even more bias and adverse impact against women–and that when algorithms are trained to emulate human recruiters, they may not just reproduce human biases, but also exacerbate them, engaging in a much more efficient form of discrimination”
Amazon exhibited a perfect example of this problem. In 2014, the company began using artificial intelligence to review job applications. The experimental recruitment tool was another element of the organisation’s bid for e-commerce success derived from keeping automation central to strategy. The ideal outcome of using the automated process was that the company’s successful resumes would represent what the algorithm was searching for, screening out candidates whose similar counterparts in the company had not seen so much success. The algorithm was revealed in time to be biased against women, as the benchmarks for success were based on successful hires, which in the past had been overwhelmingly male due to female applicants rarely getting the chance to perform in higher roles. The prominence of male applicants in the algorithm reflected not a superior applicant, but a history of high barriers to women in important roles. The algorithm was allowing a history of human discrimination to be more efficient.
Future algorithms used in recruitment must consider fair inputs, in order to produce an efficient and fair output.
Beekeeper is a platform designed to allow ease in collaboration between non-desktop employees. With specific settings for retail, the app can increase employee engagement with internal team communications about product updates, and sales competitions. This sense of connectivity, and being in the loop, can be hard to create when employees are on the ground, in the thick of the action. Online collaboration tools like this will transform the way we work, removing barriers to information dissemination, and easing the challenge of getting employees in a certain place and given time. This increased scope for flexibility in the workplace will give more and more space for productivity and efficiency in a way that suits the organization, and not the logistics of getting from here to there.
Effects for start ups
What does all this mean for start-ups? Of course, unbiased recruitment brings infinite benefits. The highest quality talent comes through the door, as when correctly used, AI can judge the best candidate for the job based on essential criteria, as opposed to traditional and imperfect human presumptions of suitability. Online collaboration tools that enable flexible working give huge opportunities to start-ups. The ability to connect and work in a flexible way further contributes to a high-quality workforce. As these tools allow life and work to be more compatible, roles are then opened up to remote workers, parents, etc., allowing a larger pool of candidates to result in a better-quality hire as a result.
The future of work is one of superior efficiency, democratising the opportunity for success.