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‘Death of the office’ exaggerated despite homeworking boom

PA Consulting’s Lee Howells, an automation and AI expert, is quoted in a special AI & Robotics report on how AI-driven technology is accelerating the shift towards home working. The piece discusses how the COVID-19 lockdown has forced millions of employees to adapt to working remotely, and says this trend is expected to continue well after the pandemic subsides. Companies such as Facebook and Twitter are moving towards making working from home the norm — a shift enabled by artificial intelligence-driven telecommuting.

However, the article goes on to recognise the potential of homeworking to cause mental stress, with many employees noting “video call fatigue” and craving real human interaction.

Lee predicts that the lockdown will accelerate the development and use of AI tools to monitor and manage the mental wellbeing of remote workers. He says: “Automated calls are able to detect signs of depression in staff by tracking sentiment in voice and language, as well as levels of engagement and focus through monitoring typing speed, rhythm and force,”

“This technology has the potential to act on this information by suggesting breaks or downtime to employees, helping organisations manage the mental health of their workforce remotely” Lee continues.

The article goes on to say that predictions for the ‘death of the office’ are perhaps premature, as there are still deficiencies with remote working, and it cannot yet replicate experiences such as creative meetings.

Read the full article in The Financial Times

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