The digital transformation of the employment landscape has been swift and — in some ways — a little turbulent. Companies are frequently presented with new technologies that have the potential to benefit their operations. Yet, there’s often a learning curve. Knowing how to integrate these practically, safely, and legally into their employees’ working lives is not always clear.
It’s worth gaining an understanding of some strategies for the best use of tech tools and addressing the challenges. After all, the ways tech affects employment are still developing. Taking decisive steps now can put company leaders and human resources (HR) departments in a better position to strike a balance between leveraging tech and prioritizing worker well-being.
HR departments and business leaders need to invest in meaningful growth of workers to get the most positive outcomes. Not to mention that — particularly in regulated industries — they may have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure workers are trained to perform accurately and safely. The tech transformation of the employment landscape has presented opportunities and challenges here.
This is where extended reality (XR) is proving a great addition to employment training. In essence, XR is about using multiple immersive technologies. This includes virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools, alongside mixed reality (MR), which uses real-world elements alongside virtual spaces. XR can be a powerful tool for training strategies, particularly in teaching about hazardous activities. VR simulations can introduce employees to dangerous environments without putting them at unnecessary risk of injuries. At the same time, MR allows for these simulations to incorporate the real tools and objects workers will interact with, making training more authentic and effective.
Taking an XR approach can clearly provide an extra level of legal protection by ensuring workers aren’t exposed to situations they aren’t ready for. It’s also a more dynamic and accessible way of running training programs. Businesses may find employees are more engaged with their training as it involves multiple activity types that suit various learning styles.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a big issue in employment at the moment. There’s a lot of discussion about how it can be ethically used, the issues it presents, and even the existential threat it poses to some roles. It’s important to approach adoption mindfully and strategically.
It’s always wise to keep the skill, experience, expertise, and creativity human workers provide firmly in mind when navigating AI. After all, AI cannot effectively replace humans, or provide individual perspective. Instead, this tech can allow workers to focus on tasks that benefit from their skills and talents.
A good example of this is how AI is being used in practicing employment law and other legal environments. AI-powered tools are making legal firms more efficient by performing repetitive and administrative tasks. Legal assistants and lawyers can use AI-driven analytics platforms to perform legal research, scanning vast volumes of data and returning the most relevant examples of past cases and precedents. AI can also automate the generation and assessment of contracts, both speeding the creation process and highlighting potential problem areas.
Still, ethically speaking, it’s important that professionals don’t rely on AI to perform tasks. Workers must still take responsibility for the outcome of their duties, even when they are AI-assisted. This is particularly vital where their efforts affect the lives and well-being of colleagues, customers, and the public. Businesses should develop protocols on how to safely and effectively use this technology, in order to achieve the best outcome.
Remote work began to surge during the COVID-19 pandemic and also brought with it a fair share of challenges. Making the most of this involves ensuring that businesses have protocols in place to maintain legal responsibilities and practical operations. Let’s look at some of the ways to do so.
When businesses have remote teams, effective communication and collaboration are essential to success. Wherever possible, businesses should adopt project management platforms to keep tasks organized and visible to all workers. These tools also enable messaging between employees and can integrate video call platforms.
Ensuring that your employees have a dedicated internet connection that is fast and reliable and just used for business operations is also a good way to stay connected, and could be a good option if your company has a physical location that is used as part of a hybrid model. These types of connections do not share bandwidth with anyone else, so you don’t have to worry about your employees having to deal with lags. Instead, they can easily chat with their co-workers and stay in the loop without having to worry about missing a message due to low-quality internet.
Companies should also set clear communication expectations for how often different members of the remote team should check in with each other each day or week. They should also ensure team managers set a good example with their own regular communications.
Even when workers aren’t on company premises, companies have an ethical and possibly legal duty to their welfare. HR departments should commit to regularly checking in with remote employees. This should include establishing whether workers need any accommodations due to disabilities or other challenges.
It’s also important to ensure employees aren’t overworking, which can lead to burnout and a poor work-life balance that isn’t positive for anyone. Businesses should avoid relying on electronic monitoring of remote workers to ensure correct working hours, as there are legal concerns about how this affects workers’ rights. Instead, HR should make this a part of regular conversations with workers, expressing the importance of maintaining a healthy balance. Managers should also encourage set break and finish times each day.
Adopting solid strategies can help businesses make the most of new technology while prioritizing the welfare of their workers. This can include various approaches, from leveraging XR for safer training to understanding the ethical nuances of AI tools. It’s important to also stay abreast of changes here. Some tools, particularly AI, are still the subject of legal considerations and there’s talk of the potential for regulation. Staying well-informed is an effective way to maintain responsible practices, while also keeping in the loop of potential opportunities to improve operations.
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