The future of work is to embrace technology, but the right technology

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, any technology that was around when you were born is normal, any new technology up to the age of 35 is exciting and revolutionary, and anything post 40 is against the natural order of things. Most people have a love hate relationship with technology and there is no doubt that the older we get, the less in love we are with what is new and innovative.

Technology is revolutionising so much in business and society yet while we need to embrace it, we also need to be wary of it being an answer to everything. Recently I have seen self-pushing prams ( and books where you program your voice in to recite/narrate the words ( While some people get excited about this, in reality you are just outsourcing your parenting to a machine. A child does not care about the story (the chances are they have read it 100 times) it is the time with their parent that they crave. Taglines like “wouldn't it be cool if you could read to a child, even when you’re not right there” is missing the point of storytelling, it is precisely about you being there!

In work we get excited about the new features that allow us to work remotely, however most people admit to a huge amount of time being wasted on things like video conference calls and often complain about hearing a dog barking or someone typing away as you speak. Many skype calls freeze or get disconnected causing huge frustration. Is this progress? Don’t get me wrong, they can work well but humans struggle often to use it effectively. While the technology works, our use of it is the problem.

We also need to look at the supporting data surrounding technology’s effectiveness. I recently heard anecdotal evidence around the challenges candidates were having with video interviewing and how they found it impersonal. Sonru are leaders in automated video interviewing. I spoke to their founder Ed Hendrick and he shared some interesting data with me. Over 96% of candidates interviewing through their platform did enjoy the process of video interviewing. So like much technology, it is as much about the process and time put into it as it is about the product itself and Sonru are clearly doing it right.

However, let’s ensure we continue to realise that technology is a conduit for us; and it is humans that come up with the great questions, the ideas and we need to ensure that our talent is at the centre of our organisation. If not for us, for the younger generation. I recently heard when a girl was preparing for a driving test, when asked what the red light was for – she answered – checking my social media! I don’t think driverless cars can come fast enough….

Peter Cosgrove set up the Future of Work Institute in Ireland and has written a paper “The Future of Talent” which you can read here