So it’s early morning in my kitchen and via my phone I give the command to my dog-bot, who’s in the kennel outside, to round up the sheep. Meanwhile I grab a cup of coffee before getting ready for the day’s work ahead.
Will this be the way we work in the future?
Let’s face it we now trust computers to fly planes, interpret test results and even carry out precision surgery, so surely replacing a sheep-dog must be on the horizon? Is it just finance that stops this development?
Right now we are all seeing new ways of working, we are being asked to adopt new ways of getting a job done. Some people are embracing the “new normal” whereas others are harking back to the “good old days”, wanting the traditional office life and the physical interaction with other people that it brings.
In the shepherd’s world giving commands to a dog-bot to gather sheep might seem bizarre with many hurdles to overcome. In my mind, there would be no emotional connection. Yet I would expect dog-bot to be more efficient, conscious of my substantial financial investment, than an ‘old-school’ 4-legged friend – and with less input from a frazzled shepherd. But would I trust it as much?
New ways of connecting with a team have already been embraced (hello Zoom, Teams, etc). Yet it’s the personal interaction with others which allows us to build relationships and trust. Screen to screen conversations lack much of the body language and thus emotional intelligence on which we subconsciously rely. Whether it’s remotely or ‘socially distanced’, truly connecting and building rapport is likely to be more of a challenge.
As with dog-bot our expectations can be unrealistic. We desire high performance in a tough new environment and less empathy, due to the separation, with our team-mate’s feelings or circumstances.
There’s a real danger that we will overlook the human need to have some real connection, to build that sense of belonging and work together towards the greater good.
Technology will continue to impact on the way we live and work, in many cases for the better. The leaders who will really shine will be those who grab the best aspects of it and combine it with human connection.