Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

What the workplaces of 2040 will look like

With artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics playing a greater role in workplaces, various productivity-oriented transitions are already taking place, and this trend will only accelerate by 2040, claims Jaiprakash Aildasani. “About 20 years into the future, around 2040, work will revolve around the employee,” he writes in an op-ed piece in Entrepreneur. Aildasani shares the key predictions from a recent report by Johnson Controls on the future of the workplace: 1. The emphasis will be on productivity and output, instead of where and how work is being done. 2. ‘Flexi-work contracts’ will allow employees the freedom to choose their work hours, as long as the projects are completed. 3. Sustainable and efficient resource management will be of utmost importance. “In the years ahead, the proliferation of technologies such as the Internet of Things, AI and big data further will lead to highly sustainable, ergonomic and seamless workspaces,” he writes. “These offices of the future will integrate conventional office buildings with employees’ homes and outdoor places through cutting-edge technology that will be focused on putting the premium on a superior human resource experience and productivity.”

Why boomers need to stop mocking gen Z

Karl Moore believes it’s time to stop mocking younger generations. “We delight in making fun of what millennials and generation Z want when we first hear about it. Think: flexible work hours, working from a coffee shop or another remote location, having a voice in important decisions, reshaping the hierarchy, and more,” he writes in Forbes. “Our mockery can make for good fun over a drink, yet it seems almost inevitable that a year later we realize that we want the same things as our younger counterparts.” Moore, a professor at the McGill Management School in Canada, says he had an epiphany after asking his star students to make presentations to his class on a short notice. “When I started teaching at Oxford 25 years ago or even at McGill 10 years ago, the answer would have been an unequivocal ‘yes.’” Moore writes. “How 1999! To my surprise, several of the students answered that they could not deliver because they were swamped with other assignments and a couple said that they were wrestling with mental health issues.” Instead of making fun of them, he decided the students were right. “Work-life integration is important and something to think about when we consider work requests such as the one that I made of them,” Moore writes. “While they are young and have a lot left to learn about the professional world, they proved that in this case they are wiser than me: there is no glamour in excess sacrificing of our personal needs for academic or professional demands.”

The future of the public sector workforce

While government has been more insulated from the trends whipsawing the workforce, from offshoring to automation to variable scheduling, the future of government work is quickly changing, claims Brooks Rainwater. In this Fast Company article, he outlines the three primary themes of the future of the public sector workforce: the impacts of AI and algorithms on hiring practices; better understanding a younger, more diverse workforce; and weighing the choice between a tour of duty and lifelong employment. “AI can in the best of circumstances help eliminate hiring biases while in the worst of circumstances reinforce existing biases,” Rainwater writes. “We expect government to be more transparent than the private sector. Clarity over what government weights in algorithms is imperative to identify upfront where biases may appear and work to mitigate these challenges.” It is also paramount to reflect the growing diversity of the population. “Government serves the public, and if the workforce does not reflect that public, there are clear blind spots that will be—and have been—missed in service delivery for people of color and underrepresented community members,” he writes. As for the debate on whether government work should be a lifelong commitment, Rainwater writes, “Government service in all forms, whether for a period of a few years or a full career, should be celebrated and supported.”

How robots are changing the role of managers

As AI takes more tasks off managers’ plates, managers will be forced to come up with new ways to engage their teams and instill employee confidence, argues Michael Schneider. In this Inc. article, he cites the results of a recent survey, which found that 64 percent of employees said they would trust a robot more than their manager. The respondents specified five things robots do better than managers: 1. Provide unbiased information. 2. Maintain work schedules. 3. Problem-solve. 4. Manage a budget. 5. Answer confidential questions without fear of scrutiny. When participants were asked what managers did better than robots, they responded: 1. Understand my feelings. 2. Coach me. 3. Create and promote a work culture. “The role of manager is changing,” Schneider notes. “The transition to leadership (intensified by the integration of AI) requires a transformation of thought. Rather than focusing on the details, managing the numbers, and serving as a technical expert to your team, employees value your mentorship.”

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