By Diane Streleckis - Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to a workplace near you. It feels like a whole new world. But as Women Conquer Business founder Jen McFarland pointed out, it’s just one of many changes that have remade the landscape of work.
McFarland shared some reminders and tips communication professionals can use to feel more at home in an AI-assisted environment—and help business leaders and colleagues feel that way, too.
Changes Feel More Intense Post-COVID-19
The technology changes that employees and business leaders have had to deal with just since COVID-19 have already reshaped the landscape of work. People adapted to joining virtual meetings from their homes instead of going into offices for face-to-face interactions.
“Since COVID, we’ve tended to think that all of this upheaval and change is relatively new,” said McFarland. “But communication and project-management professionals know technology change has been part of working for a long time.”
Workforces Often Fall Into Two Camps
McFarland finds that people tend to land in one of two camps when it comes to embracing change, especially when it comes to AI.
“You have the ‘No way, I’m never using it; it’s plagiarism’ camp and then the ‘I can do some really cool stuff with this’ camp,” McFarland said.
She noted that both camps have valid points. For example, “You can’t copyright AI-generated content, so using AI for a lot of content creation comes with copyright concerns,” she said. “Conversely, AI is great at handling large amounts of data. It can save you a lot of time.”
Education Makes the Terrain Easier to Get Around
Education is a core part of change management because it helps boost adoption.
“Now we get to take what we’ve learned over the course of the past few years to help people in the ‘No way’ camp to come along,” McFarland said. “You want to talk about the possibilities in a way where people understand what’s in it for them.”
Another type of education that’s important in all change management, including technology adoption, is bottom-up as well as top-down, McFarland noted. Management that listens to employee points about issues around delivering work using a new technology, with required quality and within the desired timeframe often sees better adoption.
“One of the biggest challenges that gets faced every day, especially in large organizations, is that leadership makes a decision and there’s a disconnect with the frontline folks who actually have to get that work done,” McFarland said.
An openness to being educated can help head off the workarounds that can reroute a process. Without that openness, “People come up with side systems for how they’re going to get the work done, which are often outside the chain of how things get done, stored, and communicated. Then when that person leaves, no one knows where the work is or how it got done,” McFarland noted.
You Can Create a Gated Community
“There are platforms out there which aren’t using Open AI (ChatGPT’s and Dall-E-2’s parent company). In these closed platforms, companies can train the AI using the content its people have created,” McFarland said.
She explained that these closed platforms then apply the writing model they learned from a company’s content.
Humans and AI: Creating a New Work Environment
An AI-assisted work environment can be more efficient and productive. But it still needs humans.
“AI doesn’t have a soul,” McFarland said. “It’s also wrong a lot.” You still have to review, correct, or refine its outputs.
As AI learns from humans, humans learn from AI, and humans continue to learn from humans, the world of work—and how we communicate in it—can be new, yet still easy to get around.
Diane Streleckis is a writer and content strategist dedicated to using the power of words for good. Understanding what makes people tick and then sharing practical ideas to help support their needs and concerns is Diane’s mission. She’s applied this mission mindset across industries for more than 30 years.