Emerging technologies, such as immersive technology, BIG DATA, Artificial Intelligence or intelligence of things, have a great impact on work welfare. In this post we will analyse the great benefits that we can obtain thanks to the technological advance.
The digital transformation is now more important than ever, as a result of the disruptive changes to which both companies and professionals are being subjected since the COVID-19. Working from home has gone from being an attractive option to be considered to an obligation.
The benefits of digitization in terms of improved productivity and process efficiency are obvious. Although, for professionals working in HR, one of the main debates revolves around what is being the impact of this forced digitalization process on welfare and happiness at work? What are the main threats and risks that can cause?
The relevance of the issue is unquestionable, given the proven impact of welfare on business results and, consequently, on its long-term sustainability. The reality is that we are moving towards the era of Industry 4.0 and, without trying to avoid the risks this may pose to health and welfare, I would like to address the issue from a positive approach, according to which these innovations have great potential to improve working conditions and, with them, the welfare of workers.
Having said that, what opportunities do technological solutions offer us when it comes to promoting well-being at work?
WORKPLACE HAZARD PREVENTION
The prevention of occupational risks is one of the areas that is benefiting most from the use of immersive technologies:
- Virtual Reality (VR) can have a very positive impact by facilitating practical training without having to be exposed to dangerous real situations and activities.
- Augmented Reality (AR) can increase awareness of what is happening around us, by adding contextual information (such as access to a guide with precise instructions that facilitate the activity and/or reduce errors while performing a manual task that requires both hands) or about hidden risks, without having to expose oneself to them.
- Likewise, in emergency situations in the work environment, VR is allowing a virtual simulation of those scenarios that could occur in industrial processes (fires, leaks, explosions…), the detection of poorly executed tasks, as well as the projection of routes and escape routes in the users’ field of vision in evacuation protocols.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
The application of Immersive Technologies facilitates the simulation of real situations that require the implementation of both technical and personal skills, promoting training and coaching, saving costs and time.
Professionals can familiarise themselves with new tools and assimilating new knowledge, without depending on conditioning factors related to time, space or the availability of certain material resources.
The added value that these technologies can bring to traditional training is enormous:
- Reduction of costs at a spatial-temporal and resource level.
- Real-time interaction, facilitating first-person experimentation which facilitates the learning process and the acquisition of new skills.
- Increased motivation and involvement, living the experience in first person, as the protagonist.
- Elimination of exposure to risks.
In fact, the capacity to recreate the experience in an immersive way is already giving excellent results in different environments such as the Healthcare industry (use of these technologies to train students in the performance of various interventions), the industrial sector (incorporation of new training programmes) or the Military Industry (the US army is already using VR to train its soldiers in some disciplines).
The application of Immersive Technologies opens up a world of possibilities in talent management, with more and more applications and tools designed to facilitate processes such as human capital management, the reception process or the attraction and selection of talent:
- Application of VR/AR to facilitate the process of Onboarding and adaptation to companies, allowing new incorporations to live virtually in the new company for a time prior to their actual incorporation so that the necessary adjustments can be made in advance.
- Application of VR/AR, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the processes of selection and evaluation of talent, reducing these processes and gaining in objectivity and efficiency, while improving the Candidate experience (by optimizing communication, information and shortening times).
- Immersive Technologies for competence assessment and performance management, using tools that promote engagement, motivation, development and results orientation, in a playful and effective way.
Emerging technologies such as Big Data, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence or Virtual Reality will be increasingly common in our offices to improve the work and experience of the worker.
Some examples of how technologies will transform the way we work, and the working environments, are:
- The creation of intelligent spaces that will be able to anticipate the needs of the teams working inside them, thanks to the use of intelligent sensors and voice recognition software, with which factors such as lighting, visual privacy, acoustics or temperature will be adjusted.
- The incorporation of intelligent furniture, which will be able to detect in what state we are: if we are concentrated, tired or in full performance, and depending on this, define the type of lighting that is most convenient for us, the most ideal temperature or if we should change our posture or move around to improve our performance and well-being.
- The use of virtual personal assistants: soon we will see how the popularity of virtual assistants such as Alexa from Amazon, Cortana from Google or Siri from Apple increases in workspaces. These assistants will handle most of the daily administrative tasks such as transcribing meeting minutes, scheduling conferences, reserving meeting rooms, answering routine emails and translating.
- The use of technological tools to measure the employee’s experience, well-being and happiness at work, based on the creation of real-time communication channels between the worker and the company’s management, with a functioning similar to social networks, allowing employees to share their opinions, ideas and feelings.
- Software solutions that boost work commitment and improve the employee’s experience through real time reinforcement programs using Gamification and Artificial Intelligence, based on recognizing employees for the work they do and when they do it by KPI’s, overcoming milestones, being models at the level of corporate values, etc.
The current situation of confinement and the generalisation of working from home are popularising the use of video-conference platforms such as Teams, Skype, Zoom or Webex, to facilitate communication, teamwork and collaboration. Although platforms based on the application of Immersive Technologies such as VR are already beginning to be used, which further enhance the possibilities and enrich the experience for the employee.
In conclusion, there are many tools and technological solutions available to us, although it is necessary to raise awareness and train leaders to value the wide range of existing technologies, going beyond their impact on productivity and service improvement, but also taking into account their impact on the welfare of workers.