As our nation’s major technology hubs continue to grow, Canada boasts more tech workers than ever.
With so much news, data, and events to cover across the country, TechTalent.ca leans on experts in the field and professionally sourced data to help keep our audience properly informed and up-to-date.
Our last Expert Wisdom roundup navigated Canada’s biggest tech hub, Toronto.
This month, we fix our gaze on tech-driven changes to the professional workplace.
Covid Killed the Five-Day Office Week
80% of companies now operate in a hybrid work setting, according to Gartner data.
It is predicted that by 2025, fewer than 5% of desk workers will prefer to work from a corporate workplace full-time.
Gartner projects that the frequency of five days per week in-person work will continue to fall and this corresponds with data from Leesman and other industry sources, which have registered the falling prevalence of full-time in-person work.
The city of Vancouver boasts the highest tech-job growth in North America over the past decade, according to CBRE. Little there remains the same as a few years ago.
“With different-sized tenants adopting a range of strategies … Vancouver is now in a state of flux,” stated last year’s Technology Occupancy Insights report.
According to a report from HqO, the critical takeaway for pockets like downtown Vancouver is that “office space isn’t necessarily being used less—it’s just being used differently.”
HqO affirms that a vast majority of millennial workers prefer hybrid work over full-time office work or remote-only work, pointing out that this alters workers’ relationship with their office environment.
“Hybrid employees might be working from your office on a given day—but they might also be working from home, from a coffee shop, or from another place entirely,” the report continues. “This means that the needs of hybrid workers are both highly-individualized, and highly susceptible to change.”
It’s a complex web that each company needs to untangle with the help of workplace experience professionals, modern technology, and above all: the feedback of their own staff.
Operate Remote founder Shauna Moran has stated that, “For the hybrid model to succeed, it’ll require some changes and effort from both management and employees.”
It doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war, though. Moran and others frame the ideal outcome as a win-win for both employers and their staff.
Generative AI continues to grab attention for its startling ability to replicate human-like intelligence and skills in a variety of ways.
Mastercard Signals considers AI’s potential to solve problems, disrupt convention, and create opportunity.
“Unlike other technologies that have seen hype cycles,” the report reads, “generative AI exhibits clear use cases, has led to the creation of robust solutions, and is developing swiftly.”
Today, more than 50% of companies are exploring how to employ AI to innovate, up from just 20% in 2017.
“This technology is poised to be transformative across nearly every sector,” the report continues, including “large enterprises, small businesses, banking, retail and travel.”
With regards to tech talent, generative AI could “jostle the employment economy,” according to Signals, “particularly in white-collar sectors.”
Mastercard points to a recent McKinsey report which found generative AI could automate tasks which consume up to two-thirds of some employees’ time.
“If that happens, companies may require fewer workers,” Mastercard predicts.
While AI could eliminate specific jobs, “it will likely create new opportunities and free workers from rote tasks so they can do more strategic work,” Signals posits.
Mastercard says it is therefore critical to adopt a “people-first strategy” and help workers upskill.
Steve Hasker, CEO of Thomson Reuters, agrees.
A Thomson Reuters survey encompassing perspectives from over 1,200 professionals across legal, accounting, risk, and compliance sectors in the Americas and UK shines light on the future of work in a world of AI.
“These amazing technological feats and simple user interfaces have business leaders asking how AI will transform their industries,” says chief executive Hasker. “Perhaps nowhere is that fever pitch higher than in the professional field, where conjecture around the potential for generative AI in everything from research to contract development to analysis has been building for years.”
Hasker’s research highlights an optimism that professionals currently hold for AI’s capacity to redefine job roles, with many foreseeing a rise in the valuation of specific expertise.
However, the embrace of AI is not without apprehensions. A segment of the surveyed population, about one-third, expressed concerns over AI leading to a potential decline or even obsolescence of their profession.
To capture the potential of AI, workforces will need to be skilled on the tech, Hasker believes. The report underscores imminent training demands that AI is likely to usher in—a significant 90% of professionals predict mandatory AI training in the near future.
“Training programs will need to be adapted to help staff oversee and interpret … the implementation of AI solutions,” Hasker said.
“An evolution of this magnitude will require us all to step out of our comfort zones and reassess spending allocation in key areas such as real estate, training, and hiring to better ensure we are keeping pace with emerging technology investment,” he added.
As AI continues to permeate the professional sphere, the need for adaptive strategies such as upskilling and redefined educational models becomes imperative, Hasker posits.
“The focus on retaining, attracting, training, and up-skilling talent should remain a top-of-agenda organizational issue if businesses are to continue to provide the value that customers and stakeholders have come to expect, especially as we put more emphasis on the tech changes that are disrupting all industries,” he stated.
The expert asserts it is now “clear that AI-empowered professionals will outpace those who don’t take advantage of this era of transformation”—adding that the same holds true for companies as well.