How AI Encourages more Human Interaction in an Optimized Workplace

How AI Encourages more Human Interaction in an Optimized Workplace

Artificial Intelligence is already affecting working procedures, processes, and daily business tasks. We all know, that the rise of robots will increase over the next years. The question leaders are asking now is: How are we going to deal with the changes Artificial Intelligence brings about?

An often disregarded topic is the effect AI has on the workplace itself. It is highly important to put a spotlight on that as statistics show that more people than we think are concerned. According to a new United Nations report, 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities or other urban areas in the next 30 years. That means our cities are going to house 6 billion people in total. Taking the increase of working people and the technological development into account, you can be sure that the workplace will change dramatically.

Fortunately, there are real estate advisors like Guy Grainger, who help businesses make use of that change and create an even more profitable working culture. Guy Grainger is EMEA Chief Executive Officer at JLL. Working in real estate for more than 30 years, his vision is to reimagine the building environment of cities so that people will experience a better tomorrow. Instead of demolishing existing buildings, the plan is to repurpose them.

Guy Grainger’s keynote at the Global Female Leaders summit 2019 addressed the reasons why this is necessary and how the rise of robots can be used in the workplace to connect people even more and why this is critical for business success. This article provides the insights of his speech. For full insights please watch the video recording on our YouTube channel.

Guy Grainger is EMEA Chief Executive at NYSE-listed global real estate services company JLL. Overseeing over 12,000 employees across 80 offices, he sits on the Global Executive Board and is also the global Executive sponsor for Marketing. Previously JLL’s UK CEO and with a background advising retail companies on their real estate strategy, he has worked closely with Britain’s biggest businesses and the world’s largest retailers.

Guy is also Chair of the Circular Economy Taskforce at responsible business organisation Business in the Community; sits on the policy committee of the British Property Federation; and is an established media commentator on issues facing the built environment, society and the environment.

He is an alumnus of the London Business School Senior Executive Programme, and amateur triathlete in spare time.

Redundancy or reskilling?

The industrial revolution in terms of machine learning, AI, robots, etc. is happening faster than the growth of the Internet. How do you think this will impact our workplaces? The most feared result is probably that robots will take over jobs, which can make millions of people redundant. According to the World Economic Forum, this fear will come true – but it only concerns repetitive jobs. The good news is: It will create new jobs on the other side.

So digitalization provides challenges – but also chances to optimize our businesses and drive performance as well as margins. This is what we all want, right? At this point, Guy Grainger outlines a critical question every single leader should ask themselves.

Do we want to do it at the expense of all these people? Do we want to make them redundant? Or do we reskill them?

Guy Grainger, EMEA Chief Executive Officer at JLL

You know there is only one socially responsible answer. As good employers we want to fill these new positions with people whose tasks are so repetitive that they will be needless from the point on a robot can take it over. We simply need to reskill them by providing learning and development options to achieve the skills needed for the new tasks. The expenses for that may be higher than simply hiring new talented people, but don’t forget the value of employees’ loyalty and engagement. You can be sure to receive both.

Heating up your workplace

Did you already decide on whether you want to reskill or dismiss people? Here comes the second critical thing you should consider as a leader in times of digitalization according to Guy Grainger: How can you make sure that technology and human beings are working together instead of hindering each other?

At this point, the idea of an optimally designed workspace appears. AI is already entering our private life – sometimes even more than we realize. In times when you cannot be sure if you are talking with a real human being on the phone or online, we have to accept that AI is going to change our private and professional life immensely.

What do you think is the most common complaint in the workplace? Is it a noisy office, unhealthy desks or old technological devices? The answer may surprise you. It is the temperature – and you should not underestimate these complaints. A study found out in 2019 that the workplace temperature has a measurable impact on people’s productivity.

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How to attract young talents

The trend is even going deeper. The further the technological revolution goes, the more do employees demand. People are even questioning the air that they are breathing and the quality of light. Especially generation Y – as the name already shows – is often questioning why they are coming in for certain workplace conditions. Questions like “Why have you taken us to an office located at the most pollutive part of the city?” may arise.

Guy Grainger emphasizes that businesses have not thought about something like that three years ago. But they should now – especially if you as an employer want to attract young talents, who can choose the company they would like to work with. Some graduates even want to see their workstation first before accepting a work contract. And that is a reasonable request because they are spending a huge part of their life in that environment.

But it is not enough to just heat the workspace and provide good air condition. If you want to be a leading employer, you have to give people the power to regulate their most productive working conditions themselves. During his keynote, Guy Grainger showed us an office in India, where every employee has complete power over their working spaces on their mobile phone. They can simply save their favorite conditions regarding temperature, desk height, light, etc. on their phone and the desk they choose for the day will adopt it until they arrive at work. Sounds futuristic? It is reality – so make sure you get your hands on that trend.

What robots cannot carry for you

Creating physical space is one thing, but you also have to create the community. AI and machine learning would be useless if you don’t have people to interact with them. There are many things that machines cannot do and will never be able to do. Complex problem solving is such a thing – you still need a whole team including members with diverse backgrounds. Robots are also not able to be creative – a skill that is probably the most undervalued in business. To apply machine learning, we should not forget that it needs human creativity. Another point – probably the most important – is emotional and social intelligence. Networks in terms of relationships and trust cannot be built by robots.

Creating a human experience at the workplace is definitely about the physical, dynamic, well-designed, thoughtful, unique and physical proposition – but it is also about a mindset.

Guy Grainger, EMEA Chief Executive Officer at JLL

This is where leaders come into the game. As leaders we have to build a better sense of purpose, belonging and community. We have to create memories for people – an optimal working environment is just the basis to do so. Bringing back a bit of fun into the workplace can work miracles in terms of employees’ engagement. These are the things that will attract and retain talented people. Focus on human experience and you will see the magic happen!

We are convinced that AI will place more emphasis on human experience and encourage more people back into the workplace.

Guy Grainger, EMEA Chief Executive Officer at JLL

Guy Grainger inspired us to rethink the working environment we created for our employees. If you feel enlightened too and need more insights about that topic, we provided further articles – about diversity and inclusion at the workplace for example – on the blog. Looking forward to discussing those topics at the next Global Female Leaders summit in May 2020 with you!

Review 2019: Collaborating to Build a Better World

Once again, remarkable women and influential leaders from all over the world convened under one roof to share their expertise, perspective and acumen on how the world we live in is developing and what everyone can contribute to make a positive impact. Learn more and download the offical review 2019!


Martina Große Bley

At Management Circle, I lead the content marketing team. Amongst others, I manage and oversee the Global Female Leaders blog. I am also responsible for the topics soft skills, project management and trademarks on the Management Circle blog. I am delighted to inform you about current topics, trends and creative ideas. I look forward to hearing from you!

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