The pandemic has been a turning point in the way we work and how we interact. This situation has created a different mindset in people, so we are reaching a point where human-centric tools will drive future development to support how workers will continue to interact, not only with each other, but also with machines, IoT, Bots, etc.
During the confinement, tools for creating a digital workspace grew to conquer the market, allowing users to work from anywhere at any time. People have adapted to work in this way to be safe during pandemic peaks or blockages.
Today at the workplace level people are declining job offers that require being all the time in the office. Therefore, a remote or at least hybrid work approach will be the dominant model for the foreseeable future, as this model has forced us to control one of the most common problems in cities or denser environments: Time management. On the one hand, there are no more excuses for being late, as the digital workplace has its own calendar set up to start and end at the exact time for a group of people.
Conversely, this has also led to the remote work model creating problems for workers who cannot manage when to end their work schedule. This issue has created an increase in mental problems, burnout and other effects on people. It is now normal to have wellness groups within companies to help workers understand and realize their situation in order to improve their quality of life with the right work-life balance.
Given the above panorama, what is important is how to interact in a digital workplace, which is really the core of human needs: to socialize. Any company is the result of people working together in a social way to achieve a common goal. Interactions are key to this, as we can easily see from body language, speech, volume, among others, what is the mood of our colleague during a conversation, a negotiation or even during a discussion. But today, when using virtual digital workplace communication tools, all those inputs tend to get lost. That’s why it’s important to use tools that allow team members to have a more human digital workplace.
The human digital workplace
Cloud services, coupled with a fast, resilient, high-bandwidth network infrastructure, will enable any service, anywhere, anytime. A digital workplace will allow us to work as if we were in an office, there will be a news section like office bulletin boards. The worker will have digital desk drawers with digital folders and, even better, will be able to interact with people or even machines.
Let’s start with a simple one-on-one meeting. A more human-centric digital workplace should have super wideband audio that includes noise cancellation and echo cancellation. That should be a must so that there really can be focus on a meaningful conversation. On the other hand, we see how in a group meeting the same people regulate themselves so that one person does not take control of the meeting.
Now, in a digital web conference, where there is a video gallery, it is very difficult to avoid that behavior and at the same time see the body language of all attendees, but now the aids that these tools can have can achieve feedback by having the active person’s video only on the screen, or show all conference members, how much time each person is taking during the call so they can self-regulate on their own. Even the most open communication platforms can feed ML/IA algorithms in real time to simply show the mood of their voice (sad, angry, happy, etc.) as they speak or even give feedback to the other participants.
In addition, there is also a need to take care of each person. For example, a regular medical appointment had the human touch of a person at the main entrance counter, giving access to the person who needs to get in for their appointment. Meanwhile, there was time for socializing among the people waiting even with the front desk person. Now, in a digital remote medical appointment, a simple bot will give you access, but people love that someone is learning about themselves; that you can listen in while waiting for the doctor to see you.
That’s why you can now have a more human bot that can talk to the person, ask questions, learn and even remember about how the participant’s kids have been doing in school. It’s where ML/AI-powered bots are really starting to take off in the digital and virtual workplaces of physicians and other sectors. At a university or even a school, teachers control who participates.
Today in a virtual classroom, anyone can open their microphone even without respecting the order of selection of the raised hand icon. Simple controls in the remote digital classroom where the teacher can be the only one giving access to who is speaking and having a queue visible to all participants showing who raises their hand in the order of time is key to managing a remote digital classroom with a more human touch.
In the end, what we are seeing is that it is not relevant whether the hybrid or remote work model is here to stay, what is really important is that users and businesses need to use digital and virtual workplace solutions with open communications tools that are truly human-centric to continue to work the way we like to work.