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Workforce of the future: Humanizing work through digital

Digital is about cold efficiency and doing away with the human touch. Right? Wrong. It’s the future of work. More democratic. Networked. Human.


In the early days of digital, technological advances were associated primarily with efficiency. Taking human intervention out of work and replacing it with automation and changing the very foundations of how work is performed.

Now, with advances in collaboration and social media, digital is transforming work again: breaking down traditional boundaries, supporting the reorganization of work into open ecosystems to enable greater collaboration, radically augmenting brain and brawn to enhance both the cognitive and collaborative side of work as well as the physical possibilities of human beings, and democratizing how work is conducted and forever changing our ideas of how an organization should be run from every level of the organization all the way to the top.

In short, this new wave of technology is far from dehumanizing. In fact, it’s precisely what will make work radically more human: more tailored to individual strengths, more flexible and portable, more collaborative and more meaningful to employees throughout the organization.



We look at three areas where Digital is humanizing work:

  • Digital is shaking the foundations of workforce management to its core as functional roles and job descriptions give way to people coalescing around joint goals, forming collaborative teams. Recent Accenture research shows that 79 percent of executives agree the workforce of the future will be structured more by projects than by job functions.

  • New digital advances like virtual sensors, analytics, advanced robotic devices, developments in artificial intelligence, automated virtual assistants, 3D printers, wearable devices, collaboration software, and gaming capabilities promise to reshape work practices like never before.

  • Digital gives greater prominence to “horizontal leadership” – that is, the ability to exercise influence without formal authority. The shift is evident in Accenture research results: 48 percent of high-growth companies say their leadership team has worked to incorporate a broader range of perspectives and skills.


For companies looking to put the "human" back in human capital, there are three things they can do differently:

  • Break the Hierarchies: Instead of hierarchical command and control units, companies should resemble interconnected networks. Ecosystems of companies, third-party suppliers and independent agents that hold specialized skills and workers who define their own jobs.

  • Enter the Digital Race: Robotics, automation, technological augmentation, and collaboration tools are already here to stay. Embrace them proactively instead of playing catch up to competitors that have already improved the work experience through digital.

  • Enable the Multi-skilled Worker: Coach and enable employees to constantly develop new skills that are needed by the organization and seek new opportunities to create value for their organizations. Have them focus on human skills that will reign in the age of the machine—ideation, communication, analysis, experimentation, and the ability to make sense of data.