There has been an undeniable shift in the use of technological advances in the workforce. Leveraging these advances has proven to be not only beneficial in performing tasks but absolutely crucial.

Technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence ‘AI’ and automation have always reared themselves in the workplace, subtly and in mundane tasks. Automation and AI are not always copiously expressive; it is the out-of-office replies sent by colleagues, the payslips employees receive every month, the ‘silly questions’ that we cannot ask our managers but can quickly type into search engines, the ‘VLOOKUPs’ in excel, the predictive texts that always seem to pop up and the ‘spelling checks’ we utilise when we have depleted our ‘professional grammar’.

We noted how imperative technology has become to an ever-changing society in recent years. Many workplaces are fully remote or follow a hybrid system, which is only possible through technological advances. This begs the question of how employers are able to manage these employees and ensure compliance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, “BCEA.” Automation plays a massive role in managing staff activity through automated timesheets and activity status, showing when we were active online last.

An employer bears the responsibility of complying with the BCEA despite the various working arrangements. It is paramount that contracts stipulate that the employer follows a different remote working model. It is further imperative that despite an employee’s contractual ‘place of work’ bearing a residential address, the ‘ordinary hours of work’, ‘overtime’, ‘meal intervals’, et al. clauses need to be well managed and monitored to ensure compliance with the BCEA. Fortunately, employers have, however, grasped that some may be ‘Tik-Tokking’ instead of working and, through technological advancements, are now able to track their employees’ productivity through integrated systems on their computers.

The consensus surrounding technological advances such as AI is one of anxiety and uncertainty. It is unrealistic to believe that AI resources will not steadily change the trajectory and dynamic of the workforce. Upskilling and leveraging technological advances have proven vital in any industry.

“Technology is not an exogenous force over which we have no control. We are not constrained by a binary choice between accepting and living with it and “rejecting and living without it”. Instead, take dramatic technological change as an invitation to reflect on who we are and how we see the world. The more we think about how to harness the technology revolution, the more we will examine ourselves and the underlying social models that these technologies embody and enable, and the more we will have an opportunity to shape the revolution in a manner that improves the state of the world.” ― (Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution).

Now more than ever, it is important to recognise that every workforce has an inherent requirement for employees to upskill and acknowledge that technological advances play a massive role in the workforce. The workforce’s only response to this ever-developing industrial revolution is to be part of the technological advancements, as there simply is no hiding from it.

Article by Cass-Leigh Oranje

Dispute Resolution Official at Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO SA)