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Humanizing the Future: How to Balance Technology & Relationships in the Evolving Workplace.

Breathe... The world is not being invaded by robots (not entirely at least) and in person meetings still exist!

The future of work is rapidly evolving and automation, AI, remote work, and the gig economy are major trends that are shaping the way we work. While these technologies and work models can bring many benefits such as increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved efficiency, they also have the potential to negatively impact human relationships.

Automation and AI can replace human jobs, which can lead to high percentages of job loss and more importantly social isolation. Remote work can make it harder to build and maintain relationships with colleagues, while the gig economy can make it harder to establish a sense of security and community. Now I know it seems like I'm painting a very grim picture here, but I think it's important to first have a clear understanding of what is changing, so we can have more informed discussions and find creative and unified ways of adapting to the new norms.

To counterbalance the negative effects listed above, it's important to focus on human-centric ways of working. In others words, still be human, while in pursuit of efficiency.

• One way to do this is by fostering a culture of collaboration and communication. This can be done by encouraging regular team meetings, both virtual and in person, and providing opportunities for employees to socialize and build relationships. Gamify certain aspects of your operation, to re-infuse the excitement and zest for the work you do. In my business we created a Whatsapp group with all the staff where each team member was given a specific emoji (something that represented them. Mine was a ninja don't ask.) And every time someone sold a bulk package of tea they would drop their emoji in the chat. At the end of the month, the person with the most emojis won a prize like a trip to Montreal + accommodation. Activities like this helped to unite and excite the team bringing us closer to our company mission and objectives and also to each other.

• Another way to foster human-centric work is by promoting work-life balance. This can be done by providing flexible work hours, generous vacation time, and other benefits that help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. A happy employee is a productive employee and productive employees take care of our customers and help to increase our top and bottom lines. An employer - employee relationship should be a collaborative understanding that, "I'll take care of you and you take care of me." This kind of understanding creates joy in the workplace that can even be felt by your customers.

• Additionally, companies can invest in employee training and development programs, which can help employees build new skills and advance their careers. This can help employees feel more secure in their jobs and provide them with a sense of purpose. Nothing says "we care about you!" more to employees than an employer that is willing to invest in the development of their employees. And guess what? The benefit of these efforts are mutual. Not only do employees become more equipped with a vast array of new skills, but typically employers get to also enjoy the enhanced quality of work and newly inspired ideas that begin to erupt from their evolving team members.

In short, while automation, AI, remote work, and the gig economy can bring many benefits, it's important to focus on human-centric ways of working to ensure that employees feel valued and supported. By fostering a culture of collaboration, communication, and work-life balance, businesses can create a positive and productive work environment that benefits both employees and the company as a whole.

Cheers to the future!

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