The human touch in a digital age: Why the future of work belongs to us

Last week, while catching up with a recent gradu­ate, I was struck by a familiar worry etched on her young face. “Will all this AI around us now, reduce the job market?” she anxiously asked. This concern, fueled by head­lines and sci-fi narratives, re­flects a critical disconnect in the current corporate world – a disconnect from the very human element that drives progress: our potential.

In the ever-evolving land­scape of technology, the spec­ter of artificial intelligence looms large, casting shadows of uncertainty on traditional employment avenues. Yet, amidst the apprehension, lies an opportunity to redefine our approach to work and innova­tion. It’s not merely about the proliferation of AI, but rather how we harness its capabilities to augment human potential, fostering a symbiotic relation­ship between technology and workforce. But as we navigate this transformative era, it’s im­perative to also recognize that the essence of progress lies not solely in technological ad­vancements, but in our collec­tive ability to adapt, evolve, and cultivate the human touch in an increasingly automated world.

Unleashing Human Potential: Digital Dexterity with a Human Touch

The truth is the future of work isn’t about AI or machines replacing the workforce; it’s about employing technology to empower and unleash the true po­tential of our people. Yes, automation will trans­form certain roles, but this disruption presents an oppor­tunity to redefine what a suc­cessful workplace looks like, with people at the center.

Continuous Learning: Adapting to a Changing Landscape

This future of work demands a shift in mindset from many corporate leaders. Rigid hierar­chies and cookie-cutter train­ing programs are relics of the past. The successful companies of tomorrow will be those that embrace agility and customer-centricity. Gone are the days of siloed thinking; the future belongs to nimble organiza­tions that cultivate a culture of continuous learning and swift decision-making. As a recent PwC survey aptly captures, 74% of global workers are ea­ger to embrace new skills and adapt to changing terrains.

Lead with Heart: Cultivating a Workplace of Well-being and Purpose

But agility isn’t just about technical skills. It’s about nurturing an environment that values and prioritizes human well-being. Top talent today seeks more than just a paycheck; they crave pur­pose and belonging. Compa­nies must move beyond token “perks” and build inclusive, supportive work environ­ments that prioritize em­ployee well-being. Consider this – only 11% of employees globally feel their work sig­nificantly contributes to their well-being – a statistic that demands immediate action.

Innovation: Powering Prog­ress with Human Ingenuity

The key lies in unlocking the entrepreneurial spirit within your workforce. Studies show employees with this mindset are more likely to identify new opportunities and drive in­novation (Journal of Business Venturing, 2021). Imagine a company that encourages di­versity of thought, empowers calculated risk-taking, and em­powers its people to innovate – not unlike Google’s celebrat­ed intrapreneurship model.

Purpose with Passion: Impact on Environment, Health, Safety and Diversity

Technology is a tool, not an enemy. The future of work lies in leveraging technology to create a more human-centric workplace. Companies like Telenor Pakistan serve as an admirable example. They pri­oritize employee well-being, continuous learning, and ad­vance a culture of innovation. Their commitment to a hu­man-centric future is evident – from their award-winning diversity and inclusion initia­tives to their employee devel­opment programs that boast an average of 49.6 learning hours per employee in 2023. They’re not merely adapting; they’re actively shaping a fu­ture of work where everyone thrives. Their work towards digital (and equal) empower­ment has left a lasting impact on the industry itself, includ­ing many novelties introduced to the Pakistani talent industry over the decades.

The workplace is evolving, but the key to success lies in capitalizing on what makes us human. By prioritizing agil­ity, customer focus, employee well-being, and unleashing the potential of its people, or­ganizations can not only sur­vive but thrive in the coming years. This future isn’t about simply surviving; it’s about seizing the human advantage and building a future of work where collaboration is the en­gine that drives success.

Let’s face it, the digital age is upon us. Automation is making its way through many industries. But instead of fearing it, let’s view it as a chance to rewrite the rules of work. We can leverage technology to free ourselves from mundane life tasks, sure - while allowing us to focus on what truly matters: our ingenuity, creativity, and abil­ity to genuinely connect with people in our workspaces.

AREEJ KHAN

— The writer is CPO Tele­nor Pakistan. Areej Khan brings 19 years of experience in digital, eBusiness, people management and commu­nications to her work. She remains a constant advocate of workplace inclusion and talent upskilling.

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