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What Will Workplace Relationships Look Like in the Future?

Emma Hitzke
Senior Product Marketing Director, Emerging Tech

The future of work is on workers’ minds because there’s so much uncertainty about how that future will look.

There’s plenty of debate about what kind of impact technology like automation, robots, and artificial intelligence will have on future jobs and industries. I recently attended some panels covering how the future of work will affect economic inequality in San Francisco, and how female leaders are looking for solutions that we don't lose the soft skills that humanize us. The topic even founds its place in a recent U.S. presidential candidate debate.

But one of the biggest lingering questions is about how future relationships will look as technology keeps coming into the workplace. How will relationships evolve as robots, automation, and artificial intelligence become more common in the workplace? And how do workers feel about these changes?

  How workers feel

  We recently announced the results from the second edition of our annual AI at Work global research study. Oracle and the research firm Future Workplace conducted this study based on survey answers from 8,370 employees, managers, and HR leaders across 10 countries. Here are the study’s key takeaways.


AI is changing the relationship between people and technology. People feel more comfortable with AI in the workplace. Nearly 50% of those surveyed said they currently use AI at work, up from 32% last year. When asked how they feel about having robot co-workers, nearly 2/3 of respondents (65%) said they’re optimistic. Only 24% said they felt “unsure” about AI, down from 38% in 2018.

Workers now trust robots more than their managers. There’s been a surprising development with AI coming into the workplace. Nearly 2/3 of workers surveyed (64%) said they trust a robot over their manager. The results also suggest that workers are questioning the very existence of the employee/manager relationship: nearly 1/3 of workers (32%) said they believe robots will replace managers.

Managers need to take on a new role. Workers are questioning long-held beliefs about managers, but they also believe managers and robots are best suited for different tasks. Respondents said managers are better at things like understanding feelings (45%) and coaching workers (33%). But, they said robots are better at things like supplying unbiased information (36%) and maintaining work schedules (34%). These differences could lead to new policies and processes to get the most value from managers, as well as new ways to attract, keep, and develop talent.

AI is here to stay. But both workers and HR leaders are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. Nearly 3/4 of workers (76%) and 81% of HR leaders said it’s challenging to keep up with how quickly technology is changing. One way to address this problem is listening to what workers want for a simpler experience with AI. They want a better user interface (34%), best practice training (30%), a personalized experience (30%), as well as more data security and privacy assurances.  


How Oracle supports this change  

Although people feel better about technology in the workplace, companies are still concerned about how automation, robots, and AI will affect work. It isn’t easy to change long-standing processes. But this technology has the potential to completely transform organizations for the better.

Automation could help employees find new time for strategic work. For example, rather than individuals in a finance department handling mundane tasks like verifying numbers in data sheets, automation can take over that work. This allows for more time to focus on the department’s strategic goals, like finding new revenue opportunities. Plus, automation can improve financial reporting accuracy since the chance of human error is gone. Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management solution helps companies with these capabilities.

Automation can also improve experiences for employees and customers. When automation and AI are included in chatbots, customers can get faster answers to their questions, and employees get accurate, real-time insights into what their customers care about. The Oracle Digital Assistant solution helps companies improve these capabilities.


Be ready for the future of work

These new technologies are here to stay, so companies need to understand and prepare for how it’s already changing the relationships within the workplace. Once you have that understanding, you can then build a plan that ensures relationships will be shaped and supported in ways that help organizations and employees now and in the future.


Read the full findings from the AI at Work report to learn more about how technology is changing workplace relationships, and contact us to build a future-ready relationship between your technology and your employees: https://www.oracle.com/emerging-technologies/.  

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