The notion of artificial intelligence making hiring decisions may seem like a high-tech HR parody of Black Mirror. But as more and more companies contemplate a future when the coronavirus pandemic extends deep into the future, and the adaptations it brings to work become more crystallized, human resources departments have begun to consider more significant changes.
A recent CNBC story argued that companies will continue to embrace a shift to hybrid or remote work, and increasingly rely on freelancers. This decentralization of the office and workforce will lead many companies to see automation as part of their HR strategy, specifically using artificial intelligence and machine learning to manage their staff, as well as adjusting benefits to fit evolving needs.
The argument hinges on identifiable shifts in human resources technology. An international McKinsey & Co. global survey of 800 executives taken in May and June found that 85% had accelerated digitization of employee interaction and collaboration, and 67% have accelerated automation and artificial intelligence. These are mostly leaders in tech, finance, and insurance, but the size and influence of their companies may mean that advanced HR practices filter down to other fields.
One of the artificial intelligence-related HR benefits that may be most applicable to CRE applies to staffing and hiring. Cisco, the global IT and networking giant, has started to use “blind hiring,” which allows hiring managers to view a candidate’s records without exposing their names or universities, which the company finds has led to less bias and a more diverse talent pool.
Cisco has also altered its benefits. Employees are given more flexible work schedules to make it easier to handle caregiver responsibilities, as well as discounts for tutoring for young students. To help make up for some of the lost camaraderie, networking and in-office interactions that can lead to promotions and career advancement, Cisco has formalized the process of requesting (virtual) face time with leaders to discuss career development.
There is a growing consensus among some employment experts that increased hybrid and even remote work may be a more permanent shift. A study of 12,000 employees in the United States, India and Germany found that productivity can be maintained “surprisingly well” in hybrid and remote scenarios.