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A new report from McKinsey generated plenty of buzz this week, forecasting that generative AI could add the equivalent of up to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy, and has the potential to automate 60% to 70% of the work that consumes employees’ time today, adding 0.2 to 3.3 percentage points annually to productivity growth. The report represents an acceleration of McKinsey’s previous estimates, showcasing the speed with which ChatGPT and other large language models have the potential to upend work; particularly in customer operations, sales, software engineering and R&D.
It’s the latest view—and an apparently more optimistic one—about the impact AI will have. Back in March, for instance, Goldman Sachs estimated 300 million jobs could be lost or diminished by AI. Others in the past have also had rosier outlooks, including an MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future report that suggested AI will drive innovation and job creation.
For now, it feels too early to know. When it comes to putting AI to work right now, this podcast from McKinsey was worth a listen, looking at the impact of generative AI on human resources specifically. It includes thoughts from recently retired McKinsey partner Bill Schaninger, who spoke at our recent Forbes Future of Work Summit about employee experience, hybrid work and the importance of middle managers. You can sign up to listen to the full summit here.
As return to office policies keep piling up—Google’s penalties and Salesforce’s incentives are only the latest examples—many are missing the point, writes contributor Jan Bruce. CHROs say getting people on site is still one of their toughest challenges, but the answer may be in improving office civility, creating more trust and building better managers rather than using carrots or sticks.
Head of New Ways of Working. Chief Evangelist. Head of Workplace Experience. These are just some of the titles companies are adopting for people leading remote work models—and they play a critical role, writes contributor Gleb Tsipursky, who also shares how to improve hybrid worker engagement.
At an event in New York on Monday, cofounder and CEO Marc Benioff presented Salesforce’s AI strategy, from new products to $500 million to invest in startups. Forbes’ Alex Konrad shared the tech giant’s plans.
Google parent company Alphabet is warning employees not to enter confidential materials into chatbots, including its own chatbot Bard, Reuters reported Thursday. Forbes’ Ana Faguy reports on how it’s just one of a growing number of companies concerned employees could share sensitive internal information to be leaked through AI.
In a new report, online learning giant Coursera finds that neither the U.S. nor the U.K. is leading when it comes to skills proficiency, writes contributor Nick Morrison, which could thwart leaders’ ambition of being dominant in tech. Meanwhile, the tech talent wars are alive and well, writes contributor Deborah Lovich, despite ongoing layoffs in the tech sector.
WHAT’S NEXT: ADOBE CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER GLORIA CHEN
Forbes talked earlier this year with the tech company’s longtime executive about its new Founders Tower building, how it’s avoiding company-wide layoffs, and what the concept of the “employee experience” means in a changing workplace.
You recently led a rewriting of Adobe’s corporate values. Why?
I was sitting in a meeting towards the end of 2021, exhausted. … And [Adobe CEO] Shantanu [Narayen] turned to me and said—literally out of the blue—“Hey Gloria. Have you ever thought about our values and whether it’s time for us to rethink them?” … We were about to enter our 40th anniversary year. We knew that we were going to be entering into a phase where we were really looking at new ways of working. And we had grown tremendously. Like a third of our workforce had joined during the pandemic.
There’s so much disruption happening in Silicon Valley. How are you working to try to deal with these issues, as the social contract may be changing for tech workers?
It’s about psychological safety. It’s about that environment where people feel that strong sense of belonging and security that helps them be the most innovative and creative. … We know we’re constantly having to review our priorities, to reallocate resources, to make organizational changes where necessary. But we also know there is, at the core, a humanity in everything that we do. And I think that’s something that takes years to build and an instant to lose.
You said in an interview that Adobe is committed to not having company-wide layoffs, while many tech companies have done repeat rounds. Isn’t that a risk?
We’re coming from a very strong position. We are always looking at being very disciplined around hiring, around resource allocation, around our investments. So, mass layoffs? That is just not part of our playbook. It’s not to say that there are not places where we’re going to have to look at, on an ongoing basis, how we operate the business, what our various needs are, and [how we’re] balancing across different organizations. But this tool of declaring thousands of people [redundant] and this is an assignment that’s handed out to the organization? That’s not in our playbook, and we do everything we can to avoid going there.
You opened Founders Tower when many companies have been cutting back on office space.
Our employee experience team was really already starting to look ahead to the future of work when we were designing this. If anything, the pandemic just helped accelerate what they were already planning for, which is people use physical space differently. It’s not just about floors and floors of cubes where people show up to work at their desk. We have 400 different workspaces: Town halls versus collaboration spaces versus team huddle areas.
EVP of ‘employee experience’ is part of your title. What does that phrase mean to you?
I haven’t come up with the words yet, but what I have been really thinking a lot about is the sports analogy of creating winning teams. It isn’t just about creating a great experience for the individual employee. It’s assembling a great team through our recruiting. It’s the conditioning, it’s the training, it’s the coaching, it’s the field environment. It’s all of that. … Nobody ever said exercise was fun. But doing it in service of being a winning team as opposed to just creating the most lush, decadent experience for people? I think that’s where the future is going.
FACTS + COMMENTS
“Office housework” is a term for the largely thankless tasks that contribute to the smooth operation of a workplace, like planning parties, ordering food or taking notes in meetings:
- 29%: How much more likely women were to report doing office housework, compared to white men
- 48%: How much more likely women were to volunteer for a task that benefitted all, compared to men
- “A man who doesn’t help is ‘busy’; a woman is ‘selfish.’”: Former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and organizational psychologist Adam Grant noted in this 2015 piece.
Kindred Ventures founder and managing partner Steve Jang—one of the newest additions to the Forbes Midas List—shares talks about people, culture and his investments in San Francisco startups.
STRATEGIES + ADVICE
Many tech workers say they spend four hours or fewer on “focused work.” Here’s how to optimize your workday.
Working virtually? Here’s how to politely assert your ideas while remote.
Feeling overwhelmed? Reduce these hidden wastes to stay productive.
In a recent poll of tech workers, just 25% of respondents said they worked eight hours or more each workday. What portion said they spend four hours or less on “focused work?”
Check if you got it right here.
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